Volunteers Week: Hull Support Group
This blog post was written by our three area
coordinators for the Kingston Upon Hull Support Group, Mary, Joy and Anita. As part of volunteers week they shared their experiences of their first support group meeting and how they ended up be volunteer co-ordinators:
"We were already good friends before attending our first Pituitary Foundation meeting in 2014 and went along with hope for some extra support, encouraged by our enthusiastic Endocrine Specialist Nurse, Leanne. With our various diagnoses of Pituitary conditions and Addison’s Disease, we were hopeful, but perhaps a little concerned that we might spend the next hour and a half hearing about how unfortunate we were, how limited we were or what a struggle life was.
We had phoned ahead so were not surprised when we were greeted by the then Area Co-ordinator, Ken, and his lovely wife, Pat, both founders of the group. What was striking however, was their warmth and sense of fun, qualities which were reflected in the light-heartedness of that meeting and the uplifting and positive atmosphere in the room. Our hearts were warmed watching the comedy and skilfulness of Ken’s raffle-drawing techniques, determined to include everyone. We delighted in the wonderful buffet lunch and were amazed to see one of our favourite Endocrine Specialists and the Specialist Nurse milling about, chatting away with many members. We had fun, felt connected with others and couldn’t wait to return.
Taking over the group
As the years went by, we continued to enjoy the meetings, made friends, received excellent health support and suggestions, laughed much, heard great speakers, ate good food, enjoyed exciting raffle prizes and even won the occasional quiz! We were very grateful to Ken and Pat for their work behind the scenes, to those who volunteered on the day and to the various fundraisers. We never imagined that we might be of service; until, however, the day Ken announced that poor health was making it difficult for him to continue in the role: Could anyone else please take over? It was Joy who first suggested that all three of us might pool our efforts and volunteer together. None of us had done anything like this before but, each having our individual skills and experience, we thought it might just work. Either way, we were prepared to at least try to keep these valuable meetings going.
Ken and Pat were very supportive of our proposal and spent time inducting us into our new roles as joint Area Co-ordinators. We soon found our feet, picking up much along the way, but after a year as Co-ordinators the pandemic struck and meetings were halted. We continued to communicate with members through our quarterly newsletter, providing guidance from our local Endocrine Team to help keep people safe, and various contributions from ourselves to keep spirits up. On returning to in-person meetings this year we heard how valuable members had found this, but also how much they had missed the meetings.
Sadly, Ken passed away during the pandemic. This was a truly sad loss for his family, friends and all of us. His legacy continues on however, as we continue to enjoy the light-hearted, positive meetings that he and Pat created. This is why we love doing what we do: the chance to offer a place where members and their families can connect, share the highs and lows, learn and enjoy. Members tell us they’ve enjoyed the meetings, but they don’t need to. We see it in their faces, we hear it in their laughter and we see them return. Along with others who support behind the scenes and on the day, we feel very fortunate to be of service to our wonderful members."