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Volunteers: Why spending time at The Royal Star & Garter Homes is so special

7 June 2019

Volunteers at The Royal Star & Garter Home in Surbiton have explained why they give up their free time for the Charity’s residents.

The Home in Upper Brighton Road, which cares for ex-Servicemen and women and their partners living with disability or dementia, has over 50 volunteers who help deliver a wide range of activities and events each week.

As part of Volunteers’ Week, which runs from 1 June – 7 June, they spoke about the rewards they get from giving up their free time, and the new friendships they strike up with residents.

Among the volunteers is self-employed artist Elena Middleton-Sloan. The 35-year-old helps out twice a week, running an art class and helping with a range of other activities, including flower-arranging and crafts. She feels it is important to help those who have selflessly dedicated themselves to their country. She said: “I like the fact that the Charity helps ex-Armed Forces. I really look forward to my days volunteering. I have made friends with residents and you get to know quite a lot about them. I love the fact that residents are really valued and treated the way they should be treated.”

Jeremy Wadia, 43, began volunteering in 2017 because he wanted to give something back to ex-Service personnel after leaving the Army. The passionate conservationist spends a lot of time with residents living with dementia, often helping out in the garden. He said: “I love my time with The Royal Star & Garter Homes. The experience of being a volunteer has not only been shaped by what I do and the difference I make to residents’ lives, it’s also down to the exceptional way the Home is managed, run and staffed. I genuinely feel this is a fantastic option of longer-term care for anyone with a military connection should they find they need it.”

Irene Rowe and her PAT (Pets As Therapy) dog Harvey recently received medals to mark their five years as volunteers. She said: “Harvey loves coming here, he pulls me into the Home and knows which residents have treats for him. I like coming here because I enjoy talking to people and hearing their stories, it’s very humbling.”

Vicky Peirson’s mother is currently a resident at the Home. Her father was also cared for at Surbiton. She said during her volunteers’ interview that she could bring fun and was accepted immediately. Vicky enjoys dressing up to amuse residents and staff: “I’ve been the Queen, I’ve been Queen Victoria, I’ve been Mrs Dickens… Every year I come and do Florence Nightingale. I write my own script and I absolutely love it. It’s wonderful volunteering here.”

Volunteers’ Week thanks and recognises the invaluable and diverse contribution made by volunteers in the UK.

The Surbiton Home has a number of long-term volunteers, some of whom have spent 25 years helping veterans. The Charity believes this reflects how well they are valued. Every April, it holds its annual awards ceremonies to thank its volunteers.

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