Following in her father’s footsteps: Agnes is a double volunteer

Published on: 15/03/2023

Agnes’s Dad, Jim Hetherington

Forty years ago, Jim Hetherington was a volunteer at our hospice, which was called St John’s Hospice in those days.

The retired civil servant wanted to continue contributing to the community he had diligently served until retirement and he took on a role volunteering for general duties in our very first inpatients ward. His daughter Agnes was, by then, making a life for herself over 3,000 miles away in Ottawa, Canada.

Jim would speak to Agnes on the phone or even, in those days, drop her a line and he would wax lyrical about the hospice. She recalls,

“Dad absolutely loved the camaraderie of the hospice. Serving and meeting patients, being able to spend a little time listening and chatting, really complemented his generous personality. He was always a very sociable person. He was also a member of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic choir and arranged for a group of them to come and sing carols for the patients, staff and other volunteers at Christmas time.”

After many years in Canada, Agnes returned to her native Wirral just over five years ago when Jim was very ill. She is part of a large family, the second oldest of seven siblings, and they all wanted to be together at their challenging time. Jim and Mum, Sheila, had lived to a fair age, into their 90’s, and sadly they passed away within three months of each other.

(l-r) Claire, AGNES, Phil, Mum Sheila, Margie, DAD JIM, John, Peter and Paul

Jim, Sheila and one of Agnes’s sisters, Margie, are now no longer with us but their spirit lives on. Not least with Jim through the many volunteers still giving their precious time to the hospice. Agnes tells us that he and other family members are fondly remembered each year through lights sponsored in our annual Light up a Life commemorations.

So, by 2021 and now settled back in her native Wallasey, Agnes decided that she wanted to emulate her dad by volunteering for the hospice he had loved.  Encouraged by another volunteer, her neighbour, Sue Hirst, she began doing a weekly shift at our New Brighton charity shop. She says,

“Volunteering in the New Brighton shop is fantastic. There is a lovely vibe in the shop which makes people want to come in. I love working with the other volunteers Edna, Lynnette, Stella, Shirley and Sue, and our shop manager Nadia is just brilliant, constantly on the go making things look really attractive and always on hand to help us and any regular customers. We are like our own micro-community.”

In late 2022 an invite went out from the hospice’s volunteer services manager, Phil McGraa, for all volunteers to meet at the hospice to receive an update of all that was going on there.

Agnes was really impressed. She enquired whether there were additional tasks she might take on at the hospice itself and Phil was only too pleased to welcome her as a new General Duties volunteer following in Jim’s footsteps from all those years ago.

And, she loves it!

Her Wirral/Canadian hybrid accent is warm and engaging.  Just like her dad, she loves working on the ward and says inspiring chats with the patients, “puts your mind in a positive place”.

General duties involves helping the kitchen staff on the Inpatients ward in serving hot drinks, replenishing jugs of water, removing trays, washing up and that all important, when appropriate, friendly conversation with patients.

In her life outside the hospice Agnes, once a successful marketing manager at Canada’s largest telecoms company, Bell Canada, is a teacher of Svaroopa® Yoga, the overarching message from which is to make your life one of service and of value.

We know that Agnes practices what she teaches. The hospice gives thanks for your service Agnes and, of course, to your dad, Jim.

Many, Many Thanks!

If you’d like to volunteer at the hospice or in your community at one of our charity shops follow the links at www.wirralhospice.org/volunteering or email volunteering@wirralhospice.org or call 0151 334 2778 and ask for volunteer services