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31 Dec 2018 Care

Christmas at Kirkwood: Chris’s Story

Christmas is a very special time of year for all families, but particularly for those receiving care at the end of life. Our teams at Kirkwood make sure to go the extra mile to ensure that our patients and their families have the best quality time together possible, and make special memories each Christmas.

Meet Chris. Chris has been volunteering at Kirkwood Hospice for 14 years in a variety of different roles. In Chris’s regular role on reception, he is the first person families see when visiting the Hospice. Through having a personal experience with Kirkwood, he recognises just how important a warm welcome is to those in need, especially at Christmas time. This is Chris’s story:

“I wear five different hats at Kirkwood. I’m an ambassador, I’m the resident Santa and I work on reception, I’ve done the same shift for 14 years. I just enjoy what Kirkwood is all about, there are no sad faces.

“I’m the resident Santa for Kirkwood because of how they’ve helped me with losing my wife. I was approached to help out as a Santa initially because the regular Santa was ill and that was a couple of years ago.

“I do it because I’ve no grandchildren of my own and it’s lovely to give the children that magic of Christmas and talk to the children in their language. They’re in the spirit and it’s a lovely magically time of year.”

Chris volunteers on reception every Tuesday evening.

“I believe my role on reception is to talk to people when it is their worst time, primarily friends and family coming to visit and they’re scared. The patients are getting 100% looked after, but the family don’t know what to expect and it is a lovely place.

Chris has had a personal experience with Christmas at Kirkwood, making his time spent giving back and volunteering so much more important to him.

 “My first experience of Christmas time at Kirkwood was December 2015. I had my wife at home and she was suffering with cancer, she had a brain tumour and on Boxing Day I had to call for help. When the doctor arrived he said: ‘I think we’ve reached a point now where your wife, Margaret, needs to be going into Kirkwood’. He said he was going out to his car to get the phone number, to which I replied 557900. In a time of high stress I knew which number was going to be the one I need.

“When you’ve cared for somebody with life threatening illnesses for such a long time, the back-up you get from the Kirkwood family is amazing. We came in and it was smiling faces all round and you don’t always feel like smiling but when working on reception, one of the priorities is, everybody that comes through those front doors is looking for a friendly face and a smile.

“When I come down here to work in whichever capacity you realise there are people worse off and that they are being looked after better than anywhere. The staff, every one of those girls, is an angel and they are lovely girls. They’ve helped me on my journey.”

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