Volunteers’ Week: John’s story

From NHS employee to volunteer at Southmead Hospital

“It was such a joy to work for the NHS so after retiring, volunteering here seemed to make sense. As for so many of us, the NHS has been there throughout my life – for good and bad reasons. The feeling of giving something back is very important to me.”

From Patient Partner and Pharmacy Response Volunteer to published author and charity fundraiser, John has been on quite a journey while volunteering for North Bristol NHS Trust.

Eight years working for the NHS as a management consultant primed John for a role as a patient and public representative on several high-profile committees. However, it was during the pandemic that he really hit his stride with volunteering at Southmead Hospital.

Becoming a Pharmacy Response Volunteer

After the national lockdown was announced during the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, John received a call from Volunteer Services. He was asked whether he’d be interested in taking on a new role of Pharmacy Response Volunteer. John jumped at the chance.

In a near-empty Brunel Building, John walked back and forth from the atrium pharmacy to wards across the hospital. He was delivering medicines for patients waiting to go home. This new role coincided with his decision to write a book – the idea for which had been in forming for some time.

The silence and solitude in the corridors during those pandemic days that gave John the head space to construct the conversations and observations so central to his eventual novel, The Faultline. Set in 1977, it is a coming-of-age story of three young adults as they embark on a field trip to Northwest Highlands of Scotland – a place that is still dear to John.

Why volunteering is so important

Over the months of his volunteering, it’s the conversations that John has had with the pharmacy team, ward managers, patients, and family members that have meant the most to him.

“Sometimes I see a person sitting alone and simply say hello. I ask if they’re okay, or if they need a glass of water. They’re so grateful that someone has taken the time to check on them. That’s what volunteering is about to me. It’s an opportunity to make a real difference to people.”

John has kindly decided to donate £1 from every sale of his book to the Charity. It’s available from the lovely independent bookshop Max Minerva’s Marvellous Books in Westbury Park.

This Volunteers’ Week we’re giving thanks to John. Volunteer. Author. Fundraiser.


To find out more about volunteering at North Bristol NHS Trust, please visit the volunteering pages of the Trust website. You can keep on eye on John’s journey as an author by following him on Twitter.

Thank you for your support – it makes a huge difference to our patients, their families and our staff.

  • Sign up for email updates