Having been a teacher for 36 years I feel enormously privileged to have played a part in so many young people’s lives and, hopefully, made a difference.

My UPS, or ‘catchphrase,’ was PMA, Positive Mental Attitude, and all my pupils would use this on a regular basis.

We also practiced ‘smiling’ at the beginning of every day and concentrated on releasing the chemicals in the brain that made us feel physically much happier. Try it!

Well, all good things come to an end – or do they? On my retirement from teaching, at the age of 59, many colleagues, friends and parents of the children I had taught questioned my wisdom and all decided that I wouldn’t be retired for long before I began to seek new challenges. Yes they were right!

One month into retirement I began the intensive training course to become a Community First Responder (CFR), and took up this volunteer role in the following January for two days each week. At around the same time, I also took up a completely different role as a marriage registrar, so now I was able to marry people, also treat their injuries and mop their sweated brows when under stress!

However, two years later, the CFR role had taken its toll. I had experienced many and varied medical emergencies, including road traffic collisions, cardiac arrests, falls and breaks and much, much more. And so, a new path was needed and the words of Liz Gratton at The Donna Louise came to mind, “When you’re fed up with retirement, give me a call.” Of course, I went straight to Google to find out as much as I could about The Donna Louise, but nothing could have prepared me for my first visit! From the moment I set foot inside the building I was enveloped in the warmth of this amazing environment. Everything about the hospice just oozes positivity, PMA! Yep, this is for me. The staff are so committed, passionate, enthusiastic, energised and full of empathy; and the environment is warm, friendly and full of smiles. I hope I can become a worthy member of this very special team as a volunteer, and, in some small way, make a difference.

To be perfectly honest, having volunteered at The Donna Louise for over three years now, I can honestly say that it is me who has gained the most from the volunteering that I do. There have been times when I have been downhearted at the beginning of a day, but, by the time I've left the building my spirits have been completely lifted by the genuine caring, good will and happiness that exudes from the very core of the building! I am so very grateful to be a small part of something so hugely wonderful. Thank you all!