As part of Volunteers Week, Natalie Walker speaks to Tony and Julie Nolan who do unpaid work at Derian House Children’s Hospice two days a week.
Read more: /derian-house-25th-anniversary-derian-lodge-1-9186428 and /watch-derian-house-25th-anniversary-fund-raising-events-and-new-faces-1-9136282 and /volunteers-week-rainbow-house-in-mawdesley-1-9189011
As a charity, Derian House relies on the good will of volunteers who give up their time to support its services.
Husband and wife Tony and Julie Nolan are well known faces at the hospice and even founded fund-raising group Chorley Champions.
Julie, 58, says: “Both Tony and I were teachers at Balshaw’s High School. When Tony took early retirement in 2013 he became a volunteer at Derian. I joined in 2015.
“This was our way of giving back to the community and doing something worthwhile.
“We have not been able to have children but have had a rewarding career in teaching. I worked with special needs children in mainstream education so I have plenty of experience.
“We both volunteer at the hospice two days a week. Tony does the gardening and maintenance one day and the other day he is in the kitchen.
“I also spend one day in the kitchen and the other doing fund-raising in the office, counting money, answering phones and sorting out collection buckets.
“We also help with Derian’s Schools Out scheme, taking the children out during half term.
“We set up Chorley Champions in 2015 with some friends and ex-work colleagues, organising events to raise money for Derian House.
“Our most recent event was a coffee and cake afternoon which raised £940.
“Altogether, in the three years we have raised more than £6,000 by organising things such as car boot sales, bingo night, make up parties and bag packing.
“Derian is such a wonderful place. The staff go the extra mile and are so welcoming.
“We have learnt some new skills and met some lovely people.
“You get into conversation with so many different people when you are out fund-raising.
“You really do get something out of volunteering. I feel it is such a privilege being there for people.
“Even just making a cup of tea and having a chat with the parents is a wonderful thing.
“Most of the time Derian is a happy place, with a lot of fun, laughter and play. It is a place to create happy memories, but there can be sad times when you see a sunflower on the door and you know a child has passed away.
“Derian House means so much to us. Even though we are volunteers, we feel like part of the family when we are there. Everyone is lovely.”
Tony and Julie also act as advocates for the charity, visiting schools to talk to children about the hospice.
Julie, of Chorley, adds: “Being former teachers we have gone into schools. Tony has done a lot of assembles at around 15 different high schools to talk about the hospice and what it does. The pupils have also helped to raise money too.”
A spokesman from Derian House, based in Astley Village, Chorley, says: “As a charity providing vital respite, specialist palliative and end of life care for children life threatening illnesses, Derian House relies extensively of the generosity of the many volunteers who provide their time and talents so willingly in support of the hospice.
“Whether it’s in our charity shops, in our gardens and kitchen, or as fund-raisers who play such a crucial role in supporting the hospice financially, we are unfailingly grateful for the fantastic contribution made by our amazing volunteers throughout the region."
Derian House is celebrating 25 years of care this year and is challenging people to incorporate 25 in their fund-raising.
Derian House has a pack with information on holding back sales, enterprise challenges and sporting fund-raisers. Derian has also designed a cardboard money collection box which schools and families can collect from the hospice and start saving loose change. For more information call 01257 271 271.
Derian House is holding a gala garden party and country fair on Sunday June 10, from 10am to 5pm.
There will be a wide range of traditional activities, including a craft and gifts fair, Taste of Lancashire Farmers Market, donkey rides, brass and silver bands, Punch and Judy, magic shows, funfair, birds of prey display, a dog show, ferret racing, duck and geese herding and dressage, plus a climbing wall, bungee trampolines and zorbing. There will be guided tours of the hospice and a Prosecco and strawberry bar.