Tuesday 19th December 2017

"My name is Sandra Blanche, and I’m the Catering Team Leader. I’ve worked at Farleigh for 27 years. Before that I went to college to train for an office job, but I was offered a 3 month contract at the hospice and enjoyed it so much I didn’t want to leave. I’ve now been at Farleigh for so long that I recently received a long service award, though unfortunately I was on annual leave for the ceremony!

"My day begins in the kitchen. The first thing I have to do is clear out the fridge and turn on all the equipment to make sure the team are ready to start work. As soon as that’s done, I start making patients’ breakfasts and preparing for lunch. Sometimes the team and I will have to prepare refreshments for any meetings that are taking place throughout the day.

"I usually finish in the kitchen at about 12.30pm, unless I’m short staffed. I’ll then start planning menus and phoning suppliers to order the ingredients and food we need, making sure to check what is in season and available.

"The Courtyard Café has been through a big change recently, and we are now open to all staff, patients, and visitors to the hospice. Before, staff could only buy things by topping up money on their staff cards, but now the tills accept cash and bank cards. Even though it’s made the place a little bit busier, it’s actually worked really well. I like the fact that patients and their families can now dine with the staff; I think it makes them feel more a part of Farleigh.

"The best part of my job is meeting the patients and providing comfort to them, their friends, and relatives. I love being able to give the patients the food they want, and if the food isn’t on the menu, we will try our best to get it for them. We had a patient once who wanted something really, really simple - just a few fresh peaches - so we rang a local greengrocer and they brought them in for her the very next day.

"I think the most challenging part of my job is staffing. However I enjoy working with volunteers, and getting to see new faces all of the time. We’d be lost in our department without them.

"The kitchen at Farleigh has grown enormously from when I first started back in the New London Road building, which was a big doctor’s house with sweeping staircases. Only I and one other person worked in the kitchen back then, with 2 volunteers helping in the morning and 1 during suppertime. On the odd occasion the volunteers didn’t come in, the nurses would help prepare the food. Nowadays we’ve got 10 volunteers who can work throughout the week."

If you’d like to find out more about volunteering in our Courtyard Café, please call 01245 457324 or email [email protected].