The moment Brian walks into a room it’s clear why he’s such a popular character at the Day Hospice. His calm and gentle personality can put anyone at ease and those are the many qualities which makes Brian an invaluable part of St Luke’s.
In June Brian Welch 81 years young celebrated his 25th year volunteering as a patient driver, which is very impressive considering he only signed up for a six week stint back in 1990. Brian had offered to fill in for his friend Don, while he was away visiting his daughter in Perth, Australia. Brian enjoyed helping patients and meeting new people so much he chose to stay as a volunteer at the hospice a little longer.
Brian from Crewe continues to drive patients to this day and continues to make an impact on the people he comes into contact with each week. His starts his day by picking patients up at home before 10am and driving them to the Day Hospice every Tuesdays and Fridays.
Brian said “I pick them up in the morning, if they have bags to carry, I carry their bags for them, I open the door for them, I put their seatbelt on and do the same when I take patients home. I take them back to their homes and I make sure they are alright and then I go home.”
During his time at St Luke’s Brian has built many strong relationships with both staff and the patients, making sure he treats everyone he meets with the same respect. Going above and beyond Brian has brought joy and laughter to patients over the years. Brian was part of a Christmas pantomime called the “Friday Girls” which he starred as Father Christmas accompanied by fellow volunteers the two Vals, Jean and Di. The troop would sing, dance and act to entertain the patients over the Christmas period.
Clare Wolff Day Hospice Manager said “Brian always has a smile for patients and staff alike and fully understands how important it is for patients to be able to access our service. His gentle approach has helped many anxious patients to feel at ease when they first attend. The journey for many patients is an enjoyable experience, seeing the countryside and having a chat about everyday life makes it more than just a journey. Our team is extremely grateful to Brian for the dedication he has shown to us, our patients and the Hospice.”
Not only does Brian father of three drive his patients but he often tends to the Day Hospice garden, maintaining the Day Hospice fountain and watering the plants and shrubbery. Also, Brian has been a loyal St Luke’s lottery player for just over 22 years, “I do what I can for St Luke’s because it’s such a wonderful place. I enjoy everything that is involved with St Luke’s, I enjoy coming here I am just thankful to be given the opportunity to be involved in such an important part of the community.”
There is more to being a patient driver than getting from A to B. Brian offers a friendly face to people who may feel vulnerable and apprehensive as they don’t know what to expect when coming into the Day Hospice. But Brian is there to offer reassurance.
Brian said “I say to a new patient, when you get to St Luke’s, as soon as you get through those doors, you’re made feel welcome, don’t forget all the patients are the same as you. You can make loads of friends.”
Throughout the years Brian has been there for St Luke’s but in recent times St Luke’s has been there for Brian. Sadly 12 months ago Brian’s wife Josie lost her battle with breast cancer and died peacefully in St Luke’s Hospice after four weeks on in-care. Josie encouraged Brian to carry on driving patients and to make it to his 25th year of volunteering.
Anyone who knows Brian can tell you he is a great storyteller with tales of his time on the road as a milk tanker driver and countless experiences throughout his life. But most importantly Brian strives to help others, whether that is chatting over a cup of tea and a biscuit or physically helping patients in and out of the patient van. It is hard to quantify how many lives Brian has touched but one thing is for certain without volunteers like him St Luke’s wouldn’t be the place it is today and for that we are truly grateful.
Thank you Brian.
If you have been inspired to volunteer in Day Hospice please contact Riana Martin on 01606 5551246.