A dedicated volunteer who has manned a fundraising stall for the Hospice for more than 22 years is to step down – after raising an impressive £140,448.
Gladys Ward, 81, of Little Bealings near Woodbridge, has given up thousands of hours in her spare time to run the popular table top sale stocked with donated and new goods.
The stall was set up in Ipswich Hospital’s physiotherapy department in the 1980s with the original aim of raising money to buy a dialysis machine. Once that target was met Mrs Ward, who knew a public £1m appeal had started to build St Elizabeth Hospice in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, asked if she could continue the stall in aid of the new cause.
Mrs Ward had been a nurse at the hospital before helping out in the physiotherapy department, so the physiotherapy service manager at the time, Sheila Battley, agreed the stall could carry on.
The Hospice was built and opened in 1989, but continued to rely on donations to fund its services. So almost every week since then Mrs Ward has manned and stocked the stall, which was popular with staff patients and Hospice supporters.
She was helped by various volunteers over the years including Sheila Knock and Margaret Gooding, of Kesgrave, and Shirley and Ted Stone, of Chantry. She was also supported by the Hospice’s retail team.
Mrs Ward, whose mother Dulcie Brown was cared for at the Hospice eight years ago, said: “I thought it would be a good idea to help the appeal to build St Elizabeth Hospice as I knew it would be a local service used by local people. I can’t believe that was more than 22 years ago and the stall has been going all that time.
“It has raised £140,448.36 and I am proud of that. All the supporters and volunteers have been wonderful. It is sad that I have had to call it a day, it is the end of an era but I have thoroughly enjoyed helping such a worthwhile cause.”
Sue Goodchild, head of retail at St Elizabeth Hospice, said: “Gladys and the volunteers who have helped her run this stall have shown amazing dedication and for that we are very grateful. They have raised a huge amount of money and that has really made a difference. I cannot thank them enough for their support and I wish them all the best in the future.”
Mrs Ward decided to step down after changes were made at the hospital recently but hasn’t ruled out volunteering again for the Hospice, once she has had a well-earned rest.