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40 stories for 40 years


Jackie Wark, Farleigh Hospice Healthcare Assistant (HCA) since 1988.

One of our longest-serving HCAs Jackie has been with Farleigh Hospice for 34 years.

When she joined Farleigh, Jackie first worked in the day hospice as the inpatient unit (IPU) was still being built. When the IPU was ready, she went on to be an auxiliary nurse in our IPU and now works within Farleigh’s Hospice at Home Team.

Jackie has been with Farleigh for the majority of our major milestones, and it is only fitting on this very special birthday that we share her story and some of her special Farleigh memories.

At the age of just 15, Jackie started her nursing career as a cadet nurse at Harold Wood hospital. While she had the nursing skills, she worried that she didn’t have the academic skills to complete the training and left after eight months. She went to work in the city as an audio typist and worked there until she got married and had her first child.

Once her children had grown up, she re-entered the world of work, undertaking a variety of jobs. One role was in a nursing home, which reignited her ambition to care for people. She saw an advert for the IPU nursing role at Farleigh Hospice in her local paper and applied. Now, 34 years later, Jackie is one of our most experienced nurses and has helped hundreds of patients and families during her time with us.

Speaking about what drew her back into nursing Jackie said: “The reason I wanted to work for Farleigh was because my father had been a patient in Broomfield hospital, and he had been cared for by a really lovely nurse called Sharon. Seeing how she cared for my father made me think about how much I still wanted to be a nurse, and how I wanted to be able to care for people. I had this in mind when I saw the advert for the role at Farleigh and getting the job brought me back into the caring profession.

“It turned out that Sharon had also started working at Farleigh Hospice at the same time as me. I told her that I remembered how well she had cared for my father, and that seeing how she cared for him had brought back my interest in becoming a nurse. I wanted to be able to care for people the way she had cared for my father
.” People now say the same to Jackie.

Even though she joined Farleigh as an IPU auxiliary nurse, when she started with us the IPU wasn’t finished, so she worked in our day services until it was ready. The hospice had a happy, lively atmosphere and she can remember visitors to the hospice being surprised by this, having assumed that a hospice was a sad place. Hospice care today still suffers from this misconception, and the hospice movement works hard to educate people that hospices are more than a place to die. Jackie says: “The hospice movement is about helping people to live their life, even if they have a life-limiting illness. They should be cared for with love and dignity to the end of their life, and I am very proud to be a part of that. Helping them to try new experiences and creating special memories with their families and loved ones.”

She goes on to say: “I remember we had a lady who didn’t want to come into our day hospice because she thought it would be a miserable place. But when she came and tried it, she had a great day with us. People coming into our day hospice were always reluctant at first, but were always pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed themselves and how much it helped them. I liken our service users to flowers that are tight buds when they come in, eyes down, not mixing, who then gradually begin to blossom and open up as time goes on. They start to feel safe, and really look forward to coming to Farleigh.”

The IPU finally opened in September 1988, Jackie was very nervous on her first day in IPU. She says: “I was really nervous but as soon as I put my uniform on and started working, I felt privileged to be able to care for the people in our IPU. I had the support of other great team members to help me and it really was an amazing day.”

Moving from IPU to Hospice at Home


Jackie moved on to become a member of Farleigh’s Hospice at Home Team, caring for patients in the comfort of their own homes. Talking about this change she says: “Working in Hospice at Home is very different to the inpatient unit, but it’s just as rewarding. It’s a privilege. It’s so nice going into people’s homes and they make you so welcome. I always get to know my patients at the first meeting – it’s very important to look beyond the illness and get to know their personalities, their background; who they are. You do get attached to certain people and certain families, you can’t help it, it’s only natural. As I leave I always say ‘ thank you so much for making us feel so welcome’ because I think that it’s important that they know that they give to us as much as we give to them.”

Fond memories of at home care


Jackie’s fondest memory from her time working with our Hospice at Home Team was when she cared for a lady with dementia who was trapped inside of herself. Jackie says: “When we first went in to her she was very hard to engage with, she would just lie in bed with her eyes closed. I knew she was Irish, and my husband is from Ireland, so I shared with this with her, telling her that he is from County Down. When she heard this she smiled at me but still kept her eyes closed. I had an idea to play her a piece of Irish music on my phone and I sang along with it to her. This made her open her eyes and she started singing with me. It was so nice to unlock that little bit of her personality that she was hiding within herself. To me that was very special. It’s so rewarding when you are able to bring patients out of themselves and make them smile.”

The Farleigh family


Ask any staff member and they will tell you that we are all one big family. The friendliness and team atmosphere are the first things that newcomers to the hospice notice. Jackie considers Farleigh her second family and says: “You’re never alone, you are part of an amazing team who are always there to support you. Farleigh really is my second family. I’m very lucky, I have a great family; a lovely husband, three children, grandchildren and wonderful friends, but Farleigh is my family too.

“I remember when I first came to Farleigh to work, the first thing I felt when I walked in the door was that it was like walking into someone’s home. Because it was a house, it had a great homely feeling - people laughing, the smell of cooking, feeling welcomed by caring people. Even now we’re bigger, we still have that family feel, we all work together and support each other.”

Reflecting on the last 34 years Jackie says: “I’ve cared for so many patients over the years and you just feel so humbled and so privileged to care for them at this time in their lives. Farleigh has changed so much over the last 40 years. Our new building is purpose built, and is very different to the old one. It may not be a house, but the feeling of family hasn’t changed. Protocols and procedures change as the years go by, and the building may change to adapt to the needs of the hospice, but one thing will never change and that’s the dedication of the care staff to excellent patient care. I wish Farleigh many more happy years of providing excellent end of life care, and I want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of the last 40 years.”

Do you have a special Farleigh Hospice memory that you would like to share? To share a memory and to donate to the Farleigh Hospice 40th birthday appeal visit farleighhospice.org/40-memories or call 01245 457351.

Chris Ives, Farleigh Helper since September 2021

Chris Ives is one of our amazing Farleigh Helpers and also works as a volunteer for our Communications, PR and Marketing Team helping with our 40th birthday promotions.

Chris says: “Being a Farleigh Helper, having the opportunity to offer a befriending service to the local community, has allowed me the privilege of realising what an amazingly loving and supportive organisation Farleigh Hospice is. Voluntary work has also given me a sense of purpose and value when I most needed it.

“It’s very rewarding as you to get to know the people you are helping. All of my service users are weekly calls, so I’ve built a relationship with them and it’s nice to know I am making a difference to their lives. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Farleigh Hospice a very happy 40th birthday and I hope that Farleigh Helpers continues to grow and grow, as it’s a really wonderful service.”


Jean Hurrell, volunteer for Farleigh’s spiritual support services, since 2017

Jean has been a volunteer for five years now and has her five year certificate and long service badge to prove it.

Jean made the decision to volunteer with Farleigh Hospice having used our Circle bereavement services when her mother died. She originally worked on our Welcome Desk, and then moved to her current role as a chaplaincy/spiritual care volunteer.

While interviewing for her IPU role, she mentioned that she had previously been a nun for three years and that it was a very important part of her life. She was asked if she would consider doing chaplaincy work at the hospice. At first, she wasn’t sure she could, but she thought about it, prayed on it, and decided to give it a go. That was five years ago.

Jean says: “It’s been wonderful and just what I wanted. Chaplaincy/spiritual care means I’m there not just for the patients, but for the staff and anyone who wants to talk. I talk to the nurses and the doctors and ask if there is anybody in need of a listening ear, they then point me in the direction of people they think might appreciate some support.

“I listen to and to support not just the patients, but their families and it’s a tremendous privilege - I feel very honoured to be allowed to do it. The most rewarding part of volunteering is the contact I have with patients and families. I really feel like I’m doing something hands on and useful which is what I wanted. It’s amazing how people open up to me. It’s just lovely to see how they change - I might meet them at the beginning when they come into the hospice perhaps worried, nervous or a bit apprehensive about what’s going to happen, but after being there for a while they just blossom and it’s wonderful.”


Jenny Church, fundraising volunteer since 2012

Jenny is a volunteer in our busy Fundraising Team, regularly helping out with the running of our fundraising events as well as working in the fundraising office, helping the team with event planning and preparations.

She has been volunteering with us for 10 years, and started off helping with our large scale events like Walk for Life and Cycle for Life. When Jenny retired eight and a half years ago, she was asked if she would consider volunteering at the hospice regularly in addition to helping at events, and she decided to give it a try. She began working on our Welcome Desk and then moved over to fundraising to provide additional support to the team.

The role of a fundraising volunteer is very varied covering everything from pre-event preparation and ‘on the day’ volunteering at our events to preparing raffle prizes, printing and laminating event marketing materials and preparing collection boxes and tins for street collections.

Jenny says: “I don’t really know what I’m going to be doing when I turn up on a Monday morning which I like. There’s always something different to do, it keeps things interesting. The team are so friendly, it’s lovely working with them. I like being part of a team. I like to think I make some contribution to a very busy department and that in some small way, I help them out. It helps keep my computer skills up to date as well - I probably would have lost some of those skills being retired if I hadn’t been working at Farleigh.

“It’s a very satisfying role and really nice atmosphere to work in. The Fundraising Team let me know they appreciate me often, which is very nice as well! I wish Farleigh a very happy 40th birthday, they’ve just done such wonderful work over the last 40 years – I know quite a few people they’ve helped who can’t speak highly enough of them. I hope they keep growing, and go from strength to strength!”


Margaret Leach, catering volunteer since 1992

Margaret is one of our longest serving volunteers and has been volunteering with us for 30 years. She works in our busy catering team and is an invaluable help to Catering Manager, Sandra Blanche.

Margaret joined us when we were in the old Farleigh building and saw the transition from what was essentially a family sized kitchen, to our wonderful purpose-built kitchen and courtyard café.

Margaret says: “It’s funny - when I signed up to volunteer, they said they were desperate for help in the kitchen. I felt it would be a good fit as I am always helping out in the kitchen at church; it just comes naturally to me I guess, so it was meant to be!

“I enjoy meeting people through working in the catering team and it’s nice to know you’re making a difference by helping them. It’s really rewarding contributing towards providing something that improves the quality of our patient experience. Having a nice meal can make such a difference to their day, it can lift their spirits and it’s a pleasure to be a part of that. Wishing you a very happy 40th birthday Farleigh, here’s to another 40 years!”

Marilyn Stepney, retail volunteer since 2017

Marilyn is one of our retail volunteers and works in our Heybridge shop and as well as volunteering at our events.

Marylin says: “I have been volunteering for Farleigh almost 6 years now and enjoy all that comes with the position. Meeting new faces both colleagues and customers. Heybridge has a lot to offer and I am proud to be part of the team. While I don’t have a personal connection to Farleigh Hospice, I wanted to give something back so I signed up to help in the Heybridge shop. We’ve got a lovely team here, everyone is absolutely brilliant. I really enjoy it. The customers are really nice, the shifts are flexible around my schedule and there’s a good atmosphere in the store.

“I have some very memorable moments being a volunteer with Farleigh. One being the Walk for Life in 2019 with three of my friends who are also volunteers for Farleigh. We also did the Night Walk and the support and comradeship throughout was amazing. I’d like to wish Farleigh a very happy 40th birthday, it is a pleasure to share it with you.”


Valerie Morris, Welcome Team volunteer since 2015

Valerie is one of our original Welcome Team volunteers and has been volunteering on our Welcome Desk for seven years. She is also one of our volunteer bereavement support counsellors, and sings in the Farleigh choir.

Valerie has always undertaken voluntary work in various forms throughout her life. A former teacher, when she retired, Valerie heard about the need for volunteers for the Farleigh Welcome Desk and applied. Three years into her time at Farleigh, Valerie decided that she would like to help with the bereavement side of things too, having become aware of Farleigh’s counselling services. She trained as a bereavement support counsellor and Valerie is now a volunteer counsellor for our bereavement team in addition to her work as part of our Welcome Team.

Speaking about what she enjoys most about volunteering at Farleigh, Valerie said: “I really enjoy both of my positions at Farleigh, it’s nice to know that I am helping people and doing something worthwhile. It’s very satisfying to know you are doing something positive for others. Farleigh does such a great job and it’s nice to know I’m playing a part in helping the wheels turn - it’s very rewarding. I’d like to wish Farleigh a very happy 40th birthday, keep up the great work.”


Kay Miles, retail volunteer since 2017

Kay has been a volunteer at Farleigh Hospice South Woodham shop for five years. Now retired, Kay previously worked in a busy administrative role for the NHS working with health visitors, district nurses and GPs and wanted to give something back to the hospice movement. She helps out when and where she can, but her regular shift pattern is Thursday afternoons and one Saturday a month.

Kay says: “I help out - I just love it! I think what I like the most is the friendships I’ve developed with all the staff; we have a lovely little team here. I love the comradery, talking with the customers and sorting through donations – you never know, it could be the day you find a donation that’s worth a million. I’m a lucky lady, I get a level of personal satisfaction and work with a lovely team of girls. We call ourselves the A team!

“Having known people that have been cared for by Farleigh and being aware of what they do from working in the NHS, I have nothing but admiration for what their staff do - they are the most caring people I have ever met. They are extraordinary. I’ve had lots of friends that have passed away with cancer and my sister also has cancer. Hospice care makes it possible for people with terminal illnesses to have the best quality of life during the time they have left and that’s so important. It’s why I wanted to help by volunteering and by trying to raise money. I want to wish Farleigh Hospice a very happy 40th birthday and I hope that you continue to do what you do for another 40 years as what you do is just phenomenal."


Sue Lowden, Welcome Team volunteer since 2009

Sue has been a Farleigh Hospice volunteer for 13 years and is part of our Welcome Team.

She became involved with the hospice after a relative had received hospice care elsewhere. Following that experience, she decided to research volunteer hospice roles in mid-Essex and reached out to us.

Our Welcome Team volunteers are the face of Farleigh. They are responsible for meeting and greeting all staff, contractors and visitors to the hospice, taking deliveries, managing the incoming phone calls, taking payments for the café and shop items for sale at the hospice, as well as helping other departments with any administrative jobs.

Sue says: “The welcome team role covers quite a lot of different aspects, but I think the meet greet part is the most important part of the role. You have to be prepared to deal with many different emotions, people are sometimes very anxious coming in. It’s our job to put them at ease and to help them realise that coming into the hospice doesn’t need to be a daunting and scary experience.

“I really enjoy volunteering at Farleigh, I love the interaction with the staff and with the people that come in to use the different services. That’s the bit that I enjoy the most. I think that anybody working on the Welcome Team would probably have a very similar answer. It’s nice to talk with people when they come in. People will stop and pass the time of day with you, it’s almost like we’re a bridge between walking through the front door and then going in to use our services. We’re that middle ground that makes people relax a bit and think ‘I’ve taken the first step’. We steady the boat I guess and make them feel safe, and let them know they’ll be OK.

“I like to think that as volunteers we help take some of the strain away from the staff who are working tirelessly to provide fantastic services. Congratulations Farleigh on 40 years of providing care and compassion. The dedication that is shown by Farleigh staff is phenomenal and long may it continue.”


Su Gilbranch, IPU Volunteer since 2014

Su has volunteered with Farleigh for eight years. She began volunteering on our Welcome Desk and then moved over to helping on IPU.

Su got involved with Farleigh Hospice through the Macmillan/Farleigh hub at Broomfield hospital. A cancer survivor, Su was at the hospital having her post-cancer treatment and popped into the hub to see what she could do to help as a volunteer. A big believer ‘in paying it forward’.

Su says: “A MacMillan Doctor who was working in the hub at the time, took me over to Farleigh and booked a volunteer interview for me there and then! Soon after, I started working on main reception answering calls, greeting visitors, looking after the gift shop and doing admin for various departments. I also did admin work for the Wellbeing Team. I was then asked by the IPU ward manager if I’d like to help them out and became a ward receptionist taking over when the unit navigator went home, answering telephone calls, greeting visitors and talking to patients about meal options. I am also a listening ear to patients and their families. If we are short staffed, I help out with serving the suppers and with whatever else needs doing. It’s probably the most rewarding job I’ve ever done.

“The clinical team really made me feel like one of the them, everybody works together. I love the fact that in my role I’m there for patients, their families, the nurses and clinical team. I get to help everybody and that is really satisfying. I feel truly privileged to have worked with some of the most fantastic nurses and HSAs who really are Farleigh Angels.

“I’d like to wish Farleigh Hospice a very happy 40th birthday, it really is the most amazing place where patients, their family and friends can feel safe and cared for. Keep on doing what you’re doing … being amazing.”


Clive Stallwood, Farleigh garden volunteer since 2001


Farleigh’s’ longest serving volunteer gardener, Clive has volunteered for us for almost 20 years. He sets an example to all with his commitment and enthusiasm and has been involved in the creation of many new additions to the outside space at the hospice.

The Farleigh gardens are its most prominent feature. As visitors drive through the entrance, the first thing they see are the beautiful flower beds that border the car park and line the path to the main entrance. These are all cared for by volunteers like Clive.

Clive began volunteering after retiring, having heard about the hospice through friends whose loved ones had been cared for by Farleigh. A keen gardener, he felt that he could lend his skills and ideas to help transform the gardens into the beautiful space that they are now.

Clive works hard to make sure that the areas that are seen by patients from their rooms in Farleigh’s inpatient unit (IPU) are kept in perfect condition. All IPU rooms have a patio that looks out onto the gardens. The patios have planters by the outside chairs containing colourful flowers for patients and visitors to enjoy without having to leave the patio area. This provides interaction with nature and the outside world from the comfort of their room, offering an uplifting alternative to being in bed. The patios are also a place for visitors to congregate, sit and enjoy the views and gather their thoughts at what is an emotional time.

Clive says: “The gardens are a key part of Farleigh’s welcoming and uplifting atmosphere. Providing a calming outdoor space to enjoy, they have a huge impact on the well-being of patients, visitors, staff and volunteers. It’s nice to be able to create something for the patients to appreciate from their rooms in the IPU as well as for those patients that are able to walk around the gardens or be wheeled round in a wheelchair by a relative or carer.

“I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that I help keep the garden presentable, so that when people do walk round they can get pleasure from it. It’s nice to give something back. All the nursing staff do an absolutely fabulous job as do the fundraising team. They’re the unsung heroes I think. I just hope that what little effort I put in will make somebody’s day better at the end of the day.

“We are fortunate to have a lot of plants that are donated to us. The council and local garden centres very kindly donate an awful lot of plants to us. We sometimes get up to a thousand plants and it can be a challenge to get them planted and watered. Our garden volunteers work really hard to get them planted quickly so as not to let any donated plants go to waste. We have volunteers coming in daily, in all weathers – when it’s too cold or rainy to be outside, there’s always work to be done in the greenhouses which are heated!

“I’d like to wish Farleigh a very happy 40th birthday and wish the hospice the very best for the future.”


Janet Whitehead, Farleigh Welcome Team Volunteer since 2005


Janet has been volunteering for Farleigh for 17 years and describes herself as being ‘part of the furniture’.

Janet’s husband was cared for by the hospice in the old London Road building and she decided to volunteer for us two years after he passed away. She began volunteering once a week, and increased her days to two a week after a while.

In her role as Welcome Desk Volunteer Janet greets everyone who comes into the hospice. Our Welcome Desk volunteers are essentially the ‘face of Farleigh’ and they do an amazing job.

Janet says: “You don’t really don’t know who you’re going to meet from day to day. You could meet someone who is recently bereaved and is terribly upset or angry, it could be someone who is visiting the hospice for the first time as a patient and is very nervous or scared. Our job on the desk is to treat them gently and kindly and assist them in getting to where they need to be, and to make them feel as comfortable as possible. We also take all incoming telephone calls and are again the main point of call for people calling into the hospice.

“Sometimes when people have been down visiting people in IPU they stop and talk to us for a while before they leave and if they seem upset I always tell them to sit in our quiet room for a while and regroup before driving home. I make them a cup of tea and leave them to gather their thoughts. Really our role is just being as helpful as we can.

“It is satisfying to know that I’ve done something that’s helping other people. You go home at the end of your shift and it’s nice to know that you’ve made a difference to someone. Having lost my husband, people’s situations do resonate with me and I can really empathise with what they are going through. Every now and again it does bring back some sad memories and I take five minutes in the sanctuary to gather my thoughts, but I think it makes me better at my role because I have experienced Farleigh from the ‘other side’ as it were. Because I have been through it, I feel very strongly that people coming through our doors should be greeted by a kind person who will smile at them and talk to them as opposed to them wandering in and there’s nobody about. It’s very important that the Welcome Desk is covered as much as it can be which is why the Welcome Team Volunteers are so important.”


Joan Clarke, retail volunteer since 2008


There are over 400 volunteers working tirelessly over our 14 shops and the Maldon Warehouse, helping to keep the donations coming in for Farleigh!

Joan has been a Farleigh volunteer for 14 years and work in the Witham retail shop on Monday, Thursday and Friday afternoons, and on Saturday mornings. She first volunteered as she was keen to do something to help a local charity.

Joan says: “I enjoy volunteering, it’s very social. I like getting to know the customers, learning what they like and making recommendations to them when they come in. I also help run the RAF Club in Witham so I do a bit of cross promotion, telling customers about our club events and wearing clothes I’ve bought in the store at these RAF Club events as bit of extra marketing for the shop!

“When I began volunteering with Farleigh, I never dreamed that they would help me in the way that they have. I’d never have imagined that they’d be caring for my husband John in the last few days of his life. I will continue volunteer for Farleigh to help them help others as they helped John. I wish Farleigh a very happy 40th birthday, 40 years is a great achievement and I hope they continue to help people in our community for many years to come.”


Mark Palmer, Farleigh Hospice Facilities Manager since 2004


Mark has been with Farleigh for 18 years and manages the domestic and maintenance teams as well as overseeing the health and safety of all Farleigh sites including the retail stores.

An associate member of the water management society, Mark is a yellow belt practitioner of Lean Six Sigma and a member of the Farleigh Lean group which focuses on efficient working practices, saving money and improving efficiency wherever possible. He is also Farleigh’s environmental lead, heading up the Green Group, a working group focused on ensuring Farleigh operates in an environmentally friendly way.

Mark says: “Working at Farleigh brings me a huge amount of job satisfaction. Although I am not a patient-facing member of staff, what I do directly helps patients and supports our clinical staff and knowing that I have made a difference to them is incredibly rewarding.

“When I first started at Farleigh it was just myself and the gardener who maintained the building and the grounds. As the hospice grew, our structure changed and we had to hand over the care of the gardens to our volunteers. Our volunteers do a fantastic job of keeping our gardens looking lovely so they can be enjoyed by patients and their families.

“No two days are the same for me which is what I love about this job, the variety keeps things interesting. The hospice has changed so much over the years, it’s gone from strength to strength and I am privileged to have been a part of it. We are like big family here and it’s nice that that hasn’t changed as we’ve grown. I wish Farleigh a very happy 40th birthday and I look forward to being a part of the next chapter in its history.”