Volunteers Week – Richard’s Story

It’s Volunteers’ Week 1st – 7th June, an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering. Many Bedfordshire Freemasons donate their time as well as donating money, this is just one story;

‘I first got really seriously involved with the Keech Hospice about six years ago when my late wife Hazel was diagnosed with Bulbar Palsy Motor Neurone Disease. The Hospice had just taken on their own Neurology Consultant and Hazel was their first MND Patient. I got involved by attending a carers group every week which continued until Hazel’s death 4 and a half years ago.

The volunteering started with me being asked if I would be interested in becoming a part of the newly formed voice banking team. This involved visiting patients who had speech problems due to illness, throat cancer, MND etc. I would go to the patients house and spend a few hours with them getting them to repeat different sentences and phrases into a computer programme called Acapela, their different phonetics and phrasing was entered into the programme and the end result was that they could talk when the time came through the computer – the amazing thing was it was their own voice which spoke and not a robotic sound.

I was asked to attend a Neurology Seminar at the Hospice and gave a speech about living with MND. (The Bedfordshire Freemasons donated £500 towards the cost of the seminar).  I was soon looking for more involvement at the hospice so was approached to do some driving for them, picking up day patients and such like, then was asked if I fancied a go on the main reception desk and switchboard to which I agreed. I am now a regular fixture every Tuesday and Friday mornings 9-1 answering “Good Morning Keech Hospice How May we Help”

Because of the recent Covid problems and restrictions the voice banking has taken a back seat for a while, and whilst I am still a registered driver I am mainly on the front reception now. I often cover extra days and just recently was working there everyday for almost a month. On several occasions I have been asked if I would be interviewed by various people, Robert Perrone on 3 Counties and the Luton Podcast people among others. I have been used on several occasions in the Keech Magazine both talking about Hazel’s illness and volunteering at the Keech.

It is my small way of giving something back to a wonderful organisation that cared for my beloved Hazel and made her last year as pleasant as possible.’

Richard Brown – Lodge of St Peter 6092