Volunteers who help support dying patients and their families at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital say they feel “overwhelmed” after receiving royal recognition for their work.
The Butterfly Volunteer Service has today (Tuesday 2 June) been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Set up in 2016, the Butterfly service has grown each year – with trained volunteers working alongside East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust’s Specialist Palliative Care team to provide compassionate care to end-of-life patients.
Reflecting on the special accolade, Angela Fenn – who co-ordinates the service with help from donations made to the East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity – said: “I am overjoyed to hear that our wonderful team of volunteers have won such a prestigious award.
“For me, the Butterfly volunteers are so deserving – giving their time and offering their incredible compassion to all those patients who are in their last days or hours of life at Lister Hospital.”
The service is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the award this year – with 2020 seeing more nominations than ever before.
The Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss, will present the award to the service on behalf of the Queen later this summer, with two Butterfly volunteers invited to represent the service at a Buckingham Palace garden party in May 2021.
Butterfly volunteer Caroline Tyler said: “I feel quite overwhelmed and so proud that the Butterfly team have been given such an honour.
“We quietly sit by the bedside offering care and support – it’s just what we do – so to be recognised with this award for such a seemingly simple act of care and compassion is amazing.
“I hope that every hospital will be inspired to create something similar.”
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has seen a large number of the volunteers have to self-isolate at home due as they are in high risk categories, but the service is still operating five days a week.
Clair Taylor – whose aunt Ann Taylor sadly died at the Lister six weeks ago – wrote to the Butterfly service to thank volunteer Claire Reid for providing “enormous comfort” to the family, including Ann’s daughter Dawn who lives in the USA.
“As a family, it’s been so hard not being able to visit and care for Ann and it’s given us all enormous comfort to know she was not alone at such a pivotal moment,” said Clair.
“I do hope Claire was OK after sitting with Ann – she’s been on my mind since as it’s such an emotional moment to witness.
“Please let Claire know she is in our thoughts and prayers and she shall be forever remembered for the wonderful gift she gave us all in knowing our beloved Ann was not alone.”
Butterfly volunteers have spent more than 40 hours with patients during April and May, adapting the service to support families who are unable to visit their loved one.