Rose is a professional photographer who has volunteered at all Hospice in the Weald events since June 2016. Here she shares why she started volunteering with Hospice in the Weald and why she keeps coming back…
“When I was 19 we found out my dad had cancer – it all happened very quickly, barely a year between diagnosis and death. After months of doing the rounds at every hospital in Kent, Dad spent his last few days in the Hospice. So many months of exhaustion and uncertainty had taken its toll on my family, so it was a huge relief to have the Hospice’s support meaning we could sit down with my father and take in what was going to happen.
The Hospice made it possible for me to be there with him, holding his hand, in his final moments – something which I will never truly be able to describe how much it meant to me. I will be forever grateful for the care and compassion shown to my family in the worst time of our lives. The kindness of the staff at the Hospice made a huge impression on me at such a young age and has helped me see the best in people ever since.
Ten years after my dad passed away, I moved back to the area and made friends with someone who volunteered at Hospice events taking pictures. I was just starting to work freelance with my photography so he suggested I come along and help him at some of the events to get some more experience and meet new people in the area.
My first Hospice event was the Sevenoaks Moonlight Walk in 2016 and I remember being blown away by how happy everyone was there. Whilst talking to people, I realised a lot of them had been through a similar situation to myself and this had also led to them supporting Hospice in the Weald. People were using the Moonlight Walk to celebrate their loved ones’ lives, share funny stories about them and, fundamentally, support the cause that had helped them through their darkest hour. Every single person there had a story to tell and some of the brilliant ways they had managed to raise sponsorship was inspiring. I laughed so much chasing people around in tutus with my camera at that first event, I knew I was hooked!
My favourite memory of volunteering at a Hospice event has to the Ho Ho Hospice Run – I don’t think I have ever laughed so much whilst working in my life! Watching hundreds of people aged 4 to 90 dressed as penguins and santas and pushing themselves to run in their costumes, all the time with a giant smile plastered across their face was definitely one of the my favourite memories of last year.
A year after joining, I still try to support every event I can. In an age where you can’t listen to the radio for ten minutes without being filled with fear for humanity, it is a chance to see the compassion and absolute best in people from all walks of life. Similarly, as a photographer, it is a fantastic opportunity as I am surrounded by hundreds of happy people, usually in fancy dress, who actually want to smile for photos!
The dedication and effort put in by the events team and all their volunteers is truly inspiring and I am constantly amazed that they manage to pull off such large-scale events that consistently bring happiness to so many people every time, without fail.
I have met so many wonderful people whilst volunteering at Hospice in the Weald and I will continue to help for as long as I am able to – not just to say thank you for how they helped my dad but for the fact that death is the only thing I know we will all go through. Personally, I would rather go out of this world surrounded by peace, compassion and laughter – and that is what the Hospice means to me.”