Volunteering - Annette's story

It was a chance encounter with a member of our team and her choir that led Annette Hamlen to volunteer with us.  And we’re very lucky to have had her help for a day each week since that day back in April 2016.

“I was performing here with my choir and bumped into Adrian from the Charity. He suggested volunteering, and here I am!” explains Annette.

“I volunteer with Southmead Hospital Charity rather than anywhere else as I want to help make a difference to patients and their families.  I really believe in what the Charity is trying to achieve.  Our donors enable the Charity to fund projects which truly make life better for our patients – like the TVs in patient rooms, the art on the walls, and the music provided by the Buskathon.  It all helps create a much better environment for the patients, staff and visitors.”

Annette experienced hospital life herself as a relative of a patient seven years ago, and this has very much influenced her decision to volunteer.

“My husband had a 4 week stay in Southmead 7 years ago.” Says Annette. “That was in the old building, and we had minimal privacy and nowhere to go to ‘be’ as a family. Now, in the new Brunel building, I see families being able to have a bit of normality – go for a walk or for a coffee – and it’s great to see.”

So, what does volunteering for the Charity involve?


“I volunteer for the charity once a week and largely provide admin support.  I prepare resources and marketing materials, and also help out at evening and weekend events where I might hand out leaflets or hold one of our collection buckets.  I also set up the weekly Bake Well Wednesday cake sales in Brunel and enjoy seeing familiar faces coming each week for their treats.

“People come up and talk to you if you’re wearing a volunteer shirt. Lots of people ask me what I do here and why, and I tell them about my personal reasons. Other people just want to talk and tell their story and it helps them to have someone to listen to them.”

Annette also volunteers for half a day a week in the Volunteer Office here at Southmead Hospital where she is responsible for the database.  Having spent her whole career working in personnel, admin and finance Annette knows her way around a spreadsheet.

Outside of her volunteering commitments Annette, 59, is busy with her choir.  She also looks after her elderly mother and young great neice and nephew – on a few occasions all at the same time, which she describes as a ‘challenge’!  She has two grown up children and is about to become a grandmother for the first time.

“I particularly love the music in the hospital, a lot of which is hosted as part of the Charity’s Buskathon.  It makes everyone smile and I love seeing their reactions and the way the music lifts the whole place.

“I want to give something back to Southmead.  I can’t fault the care my husband received here, and I appreciate what the Charity aims to do.  I enjoy volunteering and helping out here each week.  I feel included and valued and sense that I’m involved in something very worthwhile.”

If this has made you interested in volunteering with Southmead Hospital Charity, please get in touch.  We’d love to hear from you.

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