Vivienne (left) has been a volunteer driver for over 12 years. We spoke to her to find out what she does, and why she finds it so rewarding:
When I retired from teaching in 2005 I knew that I would need to find some activity that would allow me to continue to interact with people. Volunteering seemed to be the perfect solution and Katharine House Hospice, situated just over two miles from where I lived, was an obvious choice. I was asked to be a volunteer driver, and more than a decade later I am still happily driving for the Hospice.

I usually drive for the Hospice twice a week as I specialise in driving the wheelchair vehicle.

We chat to the patients, try to build up a relationship, and to be a friendly audience. We also act as go-betweens, carrying messages to and from home and the Hospice when necessary. I get a lot of pleasure from knowing that my efforts are helping people whose life has taken a turn they never expected. I like to think that their lives are a little brighter and more interesting as a result. Certainly both carers and patients make a point of stressing how much they value the service.

I have learnt much as well. Some of it is very practical; like how to assist people into and out of cars – little ‘tricks of the trade’ that can also be used when transporting elderly relatives. My knowledge of the geography of the Banbury area has increased considerably and my driving skills have improved. The biggest benefit though has been the knowledge that I’m helping to make a difference to the lives of those affected by illness. The bonus is knowing that what you do is highly valued by those you do it for.