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Volunteering stalwart honoured on eve of national Volunteers’ Week

A volunteering stalwart has been honoured for her 25 years of dedication to St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth.

Alison Earle was presented with a long-service award at the annual meeting of the hospital’s League of Friends on Friday 31 May 2019.

The award coincides with national volunteers’ week between Saturday 1 June and Friday 7 June 2019, which celebrates the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK.

The League works tirelessly behind the scenes to provide the ‘extras’ which help improve the patient journey.

Its team of almost 80 volunteers run the main shop at St Mary’s as well as a cafe facility in the out-patients department and a coffee bar in the Enablement Centre.

All of the money they raise goes towards improving the hospital and its facilities and supporting Portsmouth community health care projects.

Volunteers also provide ‘meet and greet’ services, conduct patient surveys and offer a highly valuable ward visitor role, spending time talking with in-patients. Volunteers with business or charity experience also provide support to the League itself.

On receiving her award, Alison said: “I was shocked and didn’t even fully realise it had been such a long space of time. Time really does fly – it was so nice to receive it.”

She first began volunteering as a Treasurer for the League for 14 years, before becoming Chairperson for two years. She now currently occupies the position of Deputy Chair, which she has been for nine years.

Alison said one of the things she most enjoys about her role is how nice it feels to give back to the community.

“I’ve always volunteered in Portsmouth and I love to help the NHS as well. The team spirit of our League is also something that keeps me going – we have such strong team morale,” she said.

“We have a real range of people who volunteer for us, from students to those who are retired. Many will remain with us for years or even decades. We have a wonderful team, and our volunteers really get a lot out of the experience.”

St Mary’s League of Friends was one of the first League’s in the UK when it was formed in 1949 to support the original community hospital. Today, it continues to support St Mary’s community health campus patients as well as those receiving care in the community throughout Portsmouth.

Talking about the changes at the St Mary’s community health campus, Alison said: “The NHS is changing and so are the needs of the patients and visitors. We will continue to help fund the departments who require new technologies to improve patient care. Experience shows us that a League of Friends is only as good as its volunteers. Our volunteers believe in our cause and we believe in healthcare for Portsmouth’s patients.”

Chrissy Gregson, Volunteer and Patient Experience Manager at Solent NHS Trust, said: “I really don’t know what to say about Alison other than what an incredible person she is, who works tirelessly to support the League, volunteers and staff within Solent. She truly is a remarkable woman who goes above and beyond to help the League and Solent – she has a real passion for helping others.

“Alison’s role has dramatically enhanced the lives of not only our patients but our volunteers. She has given some of our volunteers a sense of purpose and responsibility. She is a highly respected and a trusted member within the League and the Trust; reliable, hardworking and is also very friendly.

“The League works tirelessly behind the scenes to provide the ‘extras’ which help improve the patient journey. Alison is an extremely important part of this.”

For more information about volunteering with St Mary’s League of Friends and to donate, go to:

For information about other volunteering opportunities within Solent NHS Trust, please contact Chrissy Gregson, Volunteer & Patient Experience Manager at


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