Bristol volunteer Alan is a Diamond Champion
By sophia1980 | Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 12:30
A charity volunteer from Bristol has been recognised at a national award ceremony hosted by the Duchess of Cornwall and Philip Schofield.
Alan Alford at the Diamond Champions ceremony
Alan Alford, 74, from Frenchay, has been named a 'Diamond Champion' by the Royal Voluntary Service which celebrates the work of older volunteers in the UK.
Alan, who has been volunteering for various Bristol causes since 2001, was honoured at a ceremony in London's Lancaster Hotel, where he was presented with a specially designed pin and a certificate. The awards were presented by the Duchess of Cornwall, who is president of the organisation and TV personality Philip Schofield, who acts as an ambassador.
A volunteer for St Peter's Hospice, Frenchay Hospital and Contact the Elderly, Alan was recognised for always going the extra mile and for greeting patients with friendly banter and a smile.
Alan said: "When I first found out I was nominated I thought 'what chance have I got' because there are so many amazing stories out there about the work that volunteers do. From 2136 nominations it was narrowed down to the final 60. To be announced as a winner was very emotional, I'm so honoured.
"I began volunteering at St Peter's Hospice in 2001 after my mum passed away. She was cared for by the charity through the Hospice at Home scheme and would say that the nurses were all angels.
"The care she received was just wonderful so when she passed away I wanted to do anything I could to give back. I first volunteered at the Day Hospice but now I spend my time as a volunteer driver.
"I really enjoy helping people. It really is a tremendous feeling."
Twelve volunteers were selected to attend the special ceremony in London and have been described as 'hidden gems in the community'.
Marc Willetts, logistics manager at St Peter's Hospice said: "It is brilliant that Alan has been named a Diamond Champion and has been recognised for the amazing work he does for the hospice, Frenchay Hospital and other local charities.
"Alan is lovely presence to have around and has given up hours upon hours of his time to help others in the local area. We are honoured to have him as part of the team."
Alan continued: "I sold my security business at the age of 57 and always felt too young and active to be retired. Volunteering keeps me busy and it is so satisfying to be able to help people.
"It's often the little things that people appreciate the most; one time at Frenchay Hospital I helped a lady top up her phone card so she could contact her family, she was so overcome with emotion she cried and couldn't thank me enough. People are frightened when faced with hospitals and hospices so just being there to chat to is enough sometimes.
"The ceremony was wonderful, my daughter came with me and I have four grandchildren living in London so we all met up and had a reunion with 17 of us in total."
To find out more about volunteering at St Peter's Hospice visit www.stpetershospice.co.uk