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10 Apr 2020 Volunteer News

A Volunteer’s Story - Jean Barrett

Following a chance encounter with a familiar name in the hospice world in the late 1980s, Jean Barrett, and her late Husband, Keith, were inspired to volunteer for Kirkwood. Over three decades later, Jean continues to dedicate her time to the charity she loves.

Before her retirement, Jean Barrett, from Meltham, worked as a North East Representative for the Society of Radiographers. As part of her role, Jean spent time travelling around the UK, attending meetings and conferences.

It was at one of these meetings in the late 1980s where Jean met inspirational English nurse and founder of the Hospice movement, Dame Cicely Saunders.

On her meeting, Jean said: “Dame Cicely Saunders was the guest speaker at this particular meeting in London. I was moved by her words, and I personally spoke to her after the meeting.

“On my journey home, I felt inspired to find out more about my local hospice, and how I could help after my retirement.”

Upon retiring, Jean visited Kirkwood Hospice’s main site in Dalton to find out more about how she could help.

Jean was met by Kirkwood’s then Fundraising Manager, Jenny Lockwood, who was delighted to find out more about Jean.

Before long, Jean became an official volunteer at Kirkwood, mainly helping with administrative tasks and computer work.

“I enjoy being with people, and volunteering at Kirkwood you get to meet so many people. It is very rewarding.”

After seeing how much his wife was enjoying her role at Kirkwood, her husband Keith was keen to offer his skills in support of Kirkwood too.

Keith and Jean Barrett.


Jean said: “Keith used his skills and experience to design and print Kirkwood’s event leaflets, posters and brochures for fundraising events such as the Lottery campaigns, musical concerts, galas, and much more.

“He really enjoyed it. He was a perfectionist and very meticulous.”

A small selection of Keith's wonderful design and print work.


After years of dedicated service, Keith took the difficult decision to take a step back from volunteering in 2009 after being diagnosed with vascular dementia.

His health deteriorated rapidly in 2019. After contracting pneumonia, Keith sadly died last October.

Kirkwood has remained close to Jean’s heart over the years, so much so that she continued to volunteer even when she was supporting Keith with his illness.

Now aged 82, Jean continues to run various fundraising stalls, including her Tombolas, which have become a famous part of Kirkwood’s monthly Coffee Mornings! Jean also keeps the hospice’s bookstall fully stocked, collects and sells stamps and attends Kirkwood’s Christmas Fair selling second hand books.

After many years of hard work in support of Kirkwood, we asked Jean about her most memorable moments.

She said: “One of my favourite events was the Christmas concerts which were held at the Huddersfield Town Hall; they were outstanding. The concerts always began with a candlelit procession, and for me, that was the start of Christmas.

“Another one of my favourite moments was the Millennium Celebration project. Kirkwood’s volunteers, patients, carers, with the help of local schools and groups, created and decorated beautiful banners that were wrapped around Castle Hill.

Castle Hill wrapped in beautiful banners created by the friends of Kirkwood.


“Kirkwood is very much needed in the community. I just love helping, and I love the atmosphere. All of the staff and volunteers are lovely.”

Here at Kirkwood, we are truly grateful to every single person who chooses to give their time to support Kirkwood. It is because of wonderful volunteers and supporters across our community – people just like Jean – that Kirkwood was founded and continues to provide the very best care for those in need.

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