News and Notices

Volunteer Week: a time to appreciate all our amazing volunteers

This volunteer week we are taking the opportunity to highlight a handful of our wonderful volunteers who contribute so much to our patients' wellbeing.

Here in Te Tauihu (Top of the South), we are fortunate to have hundreds of volunteers who put their spare time and effort into supporting our patients and communities every day. 

To all our volunteers, thank you. Your presence has made an immeasurable difference to patients and staff alike. We are so grateful for the time you have dedicated and the support you have given. Thank you for your boundless energy and compassionate hearts. Your acts of kindness and time spent are deeply appreciated.


Amy and Raymond Hill deliver Meals on Wheels as a team

Amy and Raymond Hill are a husband and wife team who deliver Meals on Wheels as a pair. They have one “run,” as they call it: from Nile Street in Nelson, around the Wood, and to Atawhai, where they deliver thirty meals to those in need of accessible and nourishing prepared food.

A and R meals wheels

Amy and Raymond with their car loaded up with meals to deliver around town

They love it, and they love working together. Their volunteering days start with picking up meals cooked and packed in Nelson Hospital’s kitchen by the Compass Group, and from there Raymond drives while Amy does what he calls “the hard work” – delivering the meal.

Amy and Raymond have been volunteering with Meals on Wheels since 2015, after retiring from education/ administration and postal work, respectively. 

Who receives the meals?

Amy: “I would call them vulnerable elderly. Quite often people who are on their own. Men on their own whose wives have died. We have people on ACC who might have broken their leg and can’t manage. And couples in their 80s or 90s who could cook, but it’s too much to do every day. Some people get the meals two or three times a week, others five days a week so it just depends on their level of ability.

“It’s often their GP or hospital that refers them on. Especially if they’ve ended up in hospital they might have an illness that reoccurring where they go home for a time and if they have the meal at home, it’s a big load off their minds.”

Raymond: “Sometimes we’re the only people they see all day. It might have been a couple of days before they’ve had a conversation with anybody.”

A: “Often they don’t have many connections in the community, especially if their children are not in Nelson, too. So it’s good to keep a check on them.”

What’s the best part of volunteering?

R: “I think it’s the sense you’re doing something worthwhile for the community. You’re giving and getting back. I also drive the hospital buggy, and volunteer with Presbyterian Support, and it’s great. You meet some lovely people and get some lovely comments that make it all worthwhile.”

A: “When you can give them a word of encouragement or put your arm around them, it’s just lovely. Because these people have given so much to the community in the years they were working and bringing up their children, this is our thank you to them, really that we can look after them.”

Do you get to know the people? Can you think of any experiences that stand out?

A: “You get to know them when you do the same run over and over and they’re all different and lovely in their own way. They’re just so pleased to see you and have the meal I think.”

R: “There’s a dear old lady, and she’s lovely, isn’t she?”

A: “Yes, she is.”

R: “Son goes down the Coast and he sometimes brings us back some honey.”

A: “So you get the odd treat.”

R: “We had one dear old lady who used to hate the chocolate puddings and if there was one, I’d get the puddings!”

A: “She’d say, ‘I’m just going to throw it out if you don’t have it!’ So, yes, you get all sorts. There’s lots of plusses really.”

We are looking for more volunteers to bring meals to our community. Email [email protected] to learn more.


Tim Morice, Friend of ED, on bantering with patients to help them pass the time and anxiety

Tim Morice has been volunteering as a Friend of ED since 2019. He loves getting to know patients, helping them pass the time, and make a connection during what can be a stressful hospital visit. 

Tim Morice

Tim Morice in Nelson Hospital's ED

Following a 25-year-long career in radio, mostly in Nelson, Tim looked for ways to give back to his community and began his volunteering journey with St John. He was a First Responder with the ambulance in Motueka and he currently drives their health shuttle. When the opportunity came up to work with Friends of ED, or FEDs, also organised by St John, Tim took it and we’re so glad he did. Tim is warm, personable and has a way of setting people at their ease.

Friends of the Emergency Department (FED) volunteers provide comfort and support to patients and their families in hospital emergency departments- someone to sit and talk to, to read with or to be a shoulder to lean on.

What do you do as a Friend of ED?

“I’ve been to ED as a patient a couple of times over the years and it can be a scary and lonely place. While you're waiting for the results of your blood tests or getting ready for an x-ray or scan, you can feel vulnerable. What I do is chat to patients. Or their support friend or family members, who are quite often more stressed than the patient. 

A bit of banter, maybe a bit of teasing, I'll make a cup of tea and provide sandwiches and also help the nurses when they’re busy and I’m not. Things like stocking the linen cupboard and making beds ready for the next arrival.

If people are alone in ED, they often don’t want to bother the nurses for things that would make them more comfortable but that's something I can do. For instance, a blanket warm fresh out of the oven is one of the real treats in ED. You put it over the patients and their smile says it all.”

What’s the best part about volunteering?

“It’s a chance to give back a bit. Time flies by. It’s good fun because I try to read people and work out if they’re up for a bit of teasing. If I can get them to laugh, that's great. Then you get good stories and get to know people. 

For example, a French tourist, flown out of the park after an accident, was quite distressed waiting for her companions to arrive, but after spending time laughing at and correcting my school-boy French, I think she might have felt a bit better - or maybe she just thought I was in a worse condition than she was. It's a privilege to be in the ED with people who're needing help.”

What motivates you to volunteer?

“I’ve always been a great believer in the community wood pile. You take from it as you're going through life and then if you’ve got the hands to help and the time to do so, I believe we should all do what we can to replenish the pile when we're older. St John is well respected and has deep roots in our community and it's a very satisfying to be part of the organsiation." 


Dick Tout, Hospital Courtesy Shuttle Driver, on being there when it matters most

Dick Tout is part of a team of volunteers who drive the Hosptial Courtesy Shuttle at Nelson Hospital which transports patients and visitors to and from the main entrance.

Dick Tout shuttle buggy driver

Dick Tout with the Nelson Hospital shuttle buggy

"You feel like you're really helping people" 

A born and bred Nelsonian, Dick has been volunteering at the hospital for 3 years after selling his local business, the Lighthouse Brewery, and retiring in 2017. Volunteering is a great opportunity to meet people and have a bit of fun, says Dick. 

“I really like having a few hours each week to have a laugh and a joke with people. Some people like a laugh and others are quite serious, you can tell the minute they get on the buggy. You meet some really interesting people.”

Getting from A to B 

The shuttle is a free service which operates from 9am-4pm during the cooler months and can take up to three passengers around hospital grounds. Volunteers drive the shuttle across two shifts each day. While most trips are from the car park to the main entrance, the team are there to help anyone who might need a lift.

“There are four buzzers around the hospital grounds that go to our two-way radio. That tells us where people are and we can let people know we are on the way. It works out really well. We also do what we call the ‘bus run’, where we come up to A&E and wait as the bus comes past to give people a lift. We time it so we are there for when the buses come.”

“It’s so much fun. You help people who have trouble walking around. I’ve also helped people over the road to the bus – I sometimes leave the buggy and help people who aren’t confident enough on their own.”

Keeping busy

Some days are busier than others, but there’s always something to keep you occupied he says. 

“One morning I only had two trips – the same person, I picked him up from his car and then took him back again. Fortunately it was a lovely day and I was able to read my book! It’s not boring. Even when you’re not doing anything, there are people coming and going and you’re watching people park. That’s an education!” he laughs.

A perk of the job is that people are always grateful for the help, says Dick. 

“Even people who don’t use the service will come past and say ‘you’re doing a great job thank you very much’. A lady even bought me a packet of biscuits one day. She’d gone to take them to a friend at the hospital who didn’t like them so she gave them to me on the way out. I didn’t mind being second fiddle!”

Making a difference

A number of times while on duty Dick has been in the right place at the right time to lend a hand.

“Once a gentleman had a heart attack outside A&E. He was leaning against his car, his wife had gone to get a wheelchair and couldn’t get in. He was struggling with breathing, so I helped him into the buggy and took him to the door, managed to raise some help to have someone bring a wheelchair and he was taken away.” 

Thankfully things turned out well for this passenger, Dick explains. 

“Last week his wife came out of the hospital and said ‘oh you were the driver who helped my husband having a heart attack’. I asked how he was, she said he was a lot better. They had just come back from Wellington where he’d had the full works done on his heart. It’s nice to hear a good outcome.”

Part of the community

Dick also volunteers at the Nelson Society of Modellers and every Sunday heads down to the modellers park at Tahunanui beach to help out. 

“The trains are still going, they’ve filled in the pond and there’s a big picnic and barbecue area there now. I’ve been clipping the tickets, I want to drive the train but I have to pass a test!”

Volunteering is something Dick will keep doing for a while to come, he says. 

“You feel like you’re really helping people, and people are so thankful.”

 To learn more about volunteering, click here.