Westbank’s award winning volunteers get the royal treatment

Westbank’s award-winning volunteers get the royal treatment at Buckingham Palace

Ross Tibbles
Ross Tibbles

Two long-serving community volunteers have attended a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace as representatives of the Devon charity Westbank Community Health and Care, whose work was recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service last year.

Ros Kukor, from Exminster, and Maurice Lloyd, from Whimple, were chosen from among hundreds of volunteers to represent Westbank at the royal event. They travelled to London together by train for the special occasion.

Maurice and Ros both volunteer for Westbank’s Neighbourhood Friends scheme, which supports patients when they leave Exeter’s RD&E hospital and Devon’s community hospitals. Ros has volunteered for Neighbourhood Friends for years, helping with all sorts from taking people home from hospital to shopping and befriending. Her husband Pete also volunteers for Westbank, helping move people’s beds when they are incapacitated after a hospital stay. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, their daughter Helen also volunteered to do shopping and prescription collection.

Ros says: “I think it’s important, particularly at the moment, to look outside your front door and see what’s happening in the world because lots of people need some help and are lonely. One of the ladies I looked after only had her cat for company, no family at all, so for me to go in once a week and take her out and have a natter made a huge difference to her.”

Maurice gives around 15 hours of his time each week as a Neighbourhood Friends volunteer. Westbank staff describe him as ‘a legend’ and say nothing is too much trouble for him.  

Maurice Lloyd says: “After the garden party, I sent my daughter a few photos on my way back on the train. Then my granddaughter, who’s ten, told me she was doing something in class about going to special places. It didn’t dawn on me that she might do something about me.

‘When I picked her up from school, she said, ‘Grandad, you’re our Hero this term because of all the voluntary work you do and because you’ve been to Buckingham Palace’. She’d printed the photos I gave my daughter and I’m now on the noticeboard at Westhill Primary School, where I’m the Hero of the Term.”  
Ros adds; “I’m not someone who usually dresses up or wears a fascinator, that’s not me, but I really enjoyed our day at the Palace. Fortunately, I took my brolly and my waterproof because the rain was lashing down for a lot of the day. We got to walk around the gardens and see members of the Royal Family. It was just a lovely atmosphere, and the tea was beautiful. The whole event did make you feel very special.”

Westbank’s Neighbourhood Friends volunteers drove more than 66,000 miles between April 2021 and March 2022, supporting patients leaving hospital. The volunteers drive to all parts of Devon and sometimes beyond, providing practical help, a friendly face and a listening ear.

Westbank is always on the lookout for new volunteers willing to help in the community. The roles are flexible and rewarding. Anyone interested in joining Ros and Maurice as volunteers can find out more and sign up at: westbank.org.uk/why-volunteer