Dedicated Horton volunteers 'are nothing short of inspirational' - like David, 82 and his book trolley

An elderly volunteer at the Horton General Hospital encapsulates the inspirational spirit of Volunteers' Week, which started on Saturday (June 1).

David Burt lends a hand once a week by pushing a book trolley around the Trauma, Juniper, and Laburnum wards, handing out reading materials to patients and their visitors.

David Burt and his book trolley at the Horton General Hospital. Photo; OUH

David Burt and his book trolley at the Horton General Hospital. Photo; OUH

The 82-year-old, who has lived in Adderbury for 19 years, began volunteering at the Horton in the summer of 2009, and still feels the buzz of volunteering ten years on.

He said: “It certainly gives me satisfaction. I provide another friendly face other than nurses and family, both of whom may not have the time or the ear that I have available.

"I am able to be relaxed, positive, and provide a smile and a joke. It’s good to be able to help other people, especially as some patients never see anyone else for days at a time.

“I am happy to give something – my time, conversation, an ear – to people in need, especially as I have spent some time in hospitals in Banbury and Oxford as a patient.”

David and his trolley of around 80 books and 40 magazines visit around 100 people each shift - crime, autobiography, countryside and history are patients’ favourite genres.

“Time goes and goes, and all of a sudden it’s been a decade – it’s a real sense of achievement. It focuses my mind," he added.

“I definitely recommend volunteering. Certainly more of my age group with time and experience would benefit, and so would the Horton.”

Horton volunteers also support Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on the wards and helpdesks, while charities League of Friends and Radio Horton are based at the hospital.

Yvonne Blencowe, voluntary services manager at the trust, said: “The many years’ service put in by our dedicated volunteers at the Horton General Hospital is nothing short of inspirational and provides a perfect example for our student volunteers.

“Volunteers are a most valuable resource as they help to support and enhance our hospital services.

“Their devotion and hard work brings a wide range of benefits to patients, carers, staff and also the volunteers themselves.

“Volunteers can help free up staff time and help forge stronger links with local communities, such as in Banbury.

“For volunteers, the positive experiences helping others provide purposeful activity, a sense of belonging, and are proven to be beneficial for their own health.”

Meanwhile, Voluntary Services recently funded a new ‘reminiscence’ computer for use with dementia patients staying at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

The therapy software, which cost £6,495 and is used on Adams Ward and 7F (both trauma), offers support for older people and reduces their agitation, isolation, depression, and delirium.

The new device has touch screen access to films, music, and games.

Personal pages can be set up for patients with their favourites to help trigger long-term memories, and therefore promote wellbeing.

The machines have proven to reduce falls by 50 percent, cut the length of patients’ stays, and improve patient experience.

Rebecca Pratt, a clinical educator at the trust, said: “These computers make a considerable and positive impact on our patients who have dementia.

“We want patients to feel as comfortable as possible, and using this software bought by Voluntary Services we are able to help them feel more relaxed through familiar music and films.”

There are approximately 1,000 devoted volunteers based at the trust, including those who dedicate their time to the League of Friends, Radio Cherwell and Horton, and at Sobell House.

They are involved in a wide range of activities, such as visiting patients in hospital wards, and helping patients across our four hospitals.

For more information about how to get involved with volunteering at the trust, email ouh.volunteers@ouh.nhs.uk