Wellbeing Centre Volunteer Sandra Taylor has craft down to a fine art

Published on: 12/06/2024

You’d never guess Sandra was 75 this year and if you ask her why she doesn’t look it, she’ll say, “I’ve got no vices” and just laugh!

She says she gets her sense of humour from her mum, of Irish descent, Eileen, who Sandra tells us had a great way of just rolling her eyes when someone was getting above their station.

With her dad, Frank, a former welder who apprenticed at Cammell Lairds, Eilleen brought up her brothers, Frankie, Peter and Michael, alongside Sandra in Birkenhead and from those boys names (assume Francis), you know they had a, not unusual, Catholic upbringing!

Sandra was quite shy and slight in those days and, for anyone who knows the ritual, people should not eat for at least an hour before receiving the communion host. She nearly always fainted which is why Eilenne always carried a pack of biscuits. HaHa!

After her schooldays, Sandra has always loved babies and children, she joined Birkenhead Children’s Hospital in 1968 as an auxiliary nurse before deciding to go on to nurse training at St Catherine’s, Birkenhead General and the children’s hospital,

After a year life was becoming so exciting that Sandra decided, with her friend Jean, that they would apply for jobs in another part of the country!

So, with a copy of the Nursing Times recruitment pages open and pin in hand (yes really), they pinpointed Treliske Hospital in Cornwall which needed trained nurses, and off they went!

Oh, Happy Days!

And there, Sandra met her husband, Ian, where, love at first sight, they were married not many months later, in Yeovil, Somerset.

Oh my! Can you imagine?

Ian was in the Royal Navy, and for another twenty six years, so in the early years home was a moving feast, Yeovil, Portland, Fareham, and then back to Yeovil.

Along came children, David, Andrew and Lisa, and soon it was time to make a permanent base. Although Ian was very much still a navy man, Sandra wanted to be ‘home in Wirral’, and they’ve been living in Neston ever since.

Once she’d settled in Sandra started nursing again at Birkenhead General, the St Cath’s and then Arrowe Park where she landed a dream job in maternity working with “the most wonderful midwifery sister, Fiona Cadlow.” Fiona is, nowadays, also a valuable volunteer at Wirral Hospice St John’s. Fabulous!

After ten years Sandra completed even more nurse training to support other wards and departmenst until retiring in 2011.

Wanting to keep her hand in by volunteering with people, the opportunity to get involved at the hospice arose. She also (she might not admit it) indulges grandson, Oscar, now 14 and 5’6” already. He lives in London so they don’t see him all the time but, “he’s gorgeous” she says.

Sandra’s now one of the self-named, Golden Girls, who come into the hospice Wellbeing Centre each Friday to facilitate crafts, baking and all-round fun and camaraderie for patients enjoying the coffee morning.

“I love working alongside our patients. At a challenging time in their lives it feels like they’re able to just ‘be themselves’. They ask after each other and are always very interested in how we’re doing too.”

Crafting is her thing as her other retirement pastime is her art. Sandra also attends an art class in Pensby and we’ve all seen the products of her creativity. Some of her paintings have been prizes in hospice raffles and one she took inspiration from the carving of the Wirral Hospice Squirrel has pride of place on the fundraising team’s wall.

So cards, boxes and other paraphernalia are created with patients alongside another Golden Girl volunteer, Pauline, and often the place is in uproar.

We think that the sense of humour you got from your Mum might have something to do with that, Sandra.

Whatever it is, keep doing it, we’re so grateful for all you do.

If you would like to volunteer for the hospice we’d love to hear from you. Please visit www.wirralhospice.org/volunteering for all the current opportunities and ways to get in touch