“It’s a halfway house to heaven!” Crawley resident to volunteer for St Catherine’s Hospice on Christmas Day
Published: 12 Dec 2022
Steve Le Tissier in the hospice kitchen (Image attached)
A Crawley resident from Pound Hill will be giving up his Christmas Day at home to volunteer at St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley, for the second year running.
Steve Le Tissier,73, will be leaving his presents behind and donning his apron to help the hospice kitchen produce Christmas meals for the patients and their families staying on its In-Patient Unit over the festive period.
Steve has a personal connection to the hospice after his father died there in 1990.
Steve says: “My father died at St Catherine’s, so I know the hospice well. Dad was there about a week. My wife and I were with him when he went. That’s how I would like to go! The choice of spending my last few weeks here or in a hospital – I know where I’d choose. St Catherine’s is a halfway house to heaven!”
Steve is a regular kitchen volunteer at St Catherine’s but his first volunteering shift at the hospice was on Christmas Day 2021 when he was recruited to screen visitors for COVID-19.
Steve says: “My first shift last year was in the morning on Christmas Day and I was screening family members and contractors in reception. But it was such a lovely day I stayed on past my shift. It was very relaxed, lots of people were in and we had a little Christmas service.
“It was a wonderful introduction to volunteering and I was also given a Christmas lunch which I ate with Father Christmas! A member of cabin crew was volunteering in the afternoon and she went round the wards with the drinks trolley for patients and their families.
“One memory I have is when a small child came in to see her grandpa. The staff gave her a present, wrapped in Christmas paper, and it was just lovely to see her little face light up.”
When government screening regulations were relaxed, Steve was asked to join the kitchen volunteering team in May this year.
About his new role Steve explains: “I’m a general pan washer and I put things away. The people there are great and although the kitchen is quite hard work physically, I know it helps. I remember the care my dad received when he was here. The way he was looked after was fabulous. Although end of life is close, the hospice tries to make the going out as pleasant as possible.
“The effort everyone goes to is incredible. On an evening shift a couple of weeks ago, we had just cleaned away and I was about to head home, when a lady on the ward suddenly requested some chips to eat. So, we got everything out again - because if it brings a smile to someone’s face, nothing is too much trouble. It might have been her last meal.
“The best thing about volunteering is the feeling of doing something and giving something back. It gets me out the house for three hours every other Sunday and it’s taught me how to wash up properly!
“I think volunteering here also makes me feel closer to my wife who died in 2015. She was a nurse all her life, so subconsciously seeing the nurses at the hospice brings me closer to her.”
Steve is keen to encourage anyone else who would like to volunteer at St Catherine’s to get in touch.
Steve says: “If anyone is thinking about volunteering at St Catherine’s, I’d say go for it, 100% - I’m looking forward to volunteering on Christmas day again this year – I’m hoping to meet Santa again!”
St Catherine’s Hospice provides end of life care and support to terminally ill people and their families across West Sussex and East Surrey.
For more information about volunteering at St Catherine’s please visit stch.org.uk/volunteering or call 01293 447333.