Photos: Steven McLaren
by BETH OLIVER
AS we begin another new year we thought we’d take a look behind the scenes at The Friends of GRI and speak to the important people who allow us to keep things running. One of those interesting people is Pat, who told me a bit about his experiences volunteering at the museum. If you’d like to make 2024 the year when you volunteer then we have details of how to get involved with us too. So please keep reading.
“My name is Pat and I’ve been doing voluntary work in the hospital since 2018. I started in the museum at the opening here last May. When I started it was just Tuesdays and Thursdays, but thanks to so many other terrific new volunteers, it’s open nearly every day and weekends and has blossomed in so many ways.”
BO: What was it that led you to volunteer here?
PM: My wife had cancer – she actually had two bouts of cancer – and I promised that I would do something to pay back the GRI for what they did for my wife. So I’m well aware of the importance of the hospital and the museum. I’ve met so many people and I’m so happy to be doing it. I’ve met so many doctors who helped my wife. I’m so happy I’ve done it because I’ve met so many nice people.
BO: You said you were here for the opening of the museum?
PM: Aye, that was in May last year. They asked me to come here because I do other things for the hospital – and not just because of my humour! I watched what they were doing for the opening. The museum looks great. It’s such a wonderful building. It’s small but there’s so much in it. There are so many good people on the walls. I will always try to add wee funny stories when anyone asks about what’s on the walls.
BO: Have you got any wee funny stories from your time here?
PM: Well there was one story I told about Rebecca Strong, who was the first matron in here all those years ago. My wife, before her cancer, was a nurse in the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice down the road and I brought her in here because she kept on asking me about coming in to see what I was doing. When I first showed my wife the photograph of Rebecca Strong, I said to her “Gonna read out what that lady had said above herself?” There was a quote from here that said “I’m afraid I was a rather troublesome woman – as soon as one step was taken I proposed another”. I asked my good lady if she was related to her! Somebody said that was the wrong move because I wasn’t going to get my dinner for two days running! However it’s wee little things like that which put a smile on people’s faces. It’s something to make it more personal. There are so many special people on the walls – and they worked in difficult times too.
BO: Would you say you get a lot out of volunteering here then?
PM: We all do – and I’m so glad I got involved. My favourite thing about volunteering is when I see people smiling. That’s one of the things I take a great deal of pleasure from and I hope the people I deal with take the same pleasure.
BO: I imagine you get to see quite a lot of smiles in here.
Yeah ,it’s very enjoyable. The people who are involved do so much terrific work and
they do it for the love of the place. I wind them up with it and say to them ‘Do you never go home? You’ve been in here for ten hours?” However, they’re all such lovely people and they’re so nice. This place is amazing.
If you’re interested in joining Pat as a volunteer then we’d love to hear from you. You can contribute as much or as little as your time allows. Just send us an email to email@example.com and we’ll get back to you!