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Diary of an ART Butterfly Volunteer: Entry 4

Reflecting back during my time as a Butterfly Volunteer at PAH, I remember being really apprehensive the first time I knocked on a patient’s room door when there were visitors with them.

Not only do I know how difficult and heart-breaking it is to be at the bedside of a loved one when they are dying, it was important to me that they didn’t feel like I was intruding.

Since that first time, I now know that I had nothing to worry about. Although visitors are going through an emotional and challenging time, everyone I have met has shown their appreciation.

Before the start of my last shift, I was briefed about George, a patient who had been recently admitted. I was told that his wife Jean may be visiting but that she would be grateful for some company. As I entered George’s room, I could see that his eyes were closed and Jean was sitting by his bed holding his hand. She greeted me with a smile, immediately accepted the offer of a cup of tea and welcomed the opportunity for me to spend time with them.

Over the next couple of hours I sat next to Jean while she reminisced about their time together. Jean was so open about how she first met George 60 years ago, their children, their hobbies, looking after him during his illness and how much she loved him.

Jean also spoke freely about how tough she was finding it, especially being apart and knowing that George wasn’t going to be around for that much longer. All I could do was listen, offer reassurance and hold her hand, which gave Jean an element of comfort.

Before leaving, I told her she was doing an amazing job supporting George. Jean thanked me and said how great it was to have Butterfly volunteers come to visit them both. She explained how much it helped take the stress away and that another visit would be very much appreciated.

Although being a Butterfly volunteer can be difficult at times, knowing first-hand how grateful visitors are for something as simple as a cup of tea, the chance to share their memories or opportunity to ask questions makes it all worthwhile.

We have spent 9 months at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow where our ART Butterfly Volunteers have provided nearly 1000 individual visits to over 300 patients who are nearing the end of their life. Feedback from patients, families and staff has been overwhelmingly positive – read our testimonials here. 

We are talking to more hospitals every day to expand the Anne Robson Trust Butterfly Volunteer scheme, with your help, we can raise the funds needed to provide the training and materials needed for our teams across the country.

Our work is entirely funded by voluntary donations. Please visit our donation page and help us achieve our aim that “No one dies alone”.


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