Jim’s Story

Jim Semple started volunteering at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in early March 2020, during the outbreak of COVID-19. Having seen first-hand the wonderful work of staff at our hospital, Jim will be running the Berlin Marathon on 26 September 2021 (subject to COVID-19 restrictions) to fundraise for CW+.

Support Jim on his JustGiving page and read about his experience as a volunteer during the pandemic:

“It all began back around late February 2020 with the emergence of COVID-19. As a freelance sales consultant to the Leisure, Health and Fitness industry, my diary was very soon to become empty.

“Within a few days, I decided to walk to my local hospital (Chelsea and Westminster) and upon arriving at the hospital reception, I recall asking how I could become a volunteer. Introduced to the Volunteer Office, I briefly said hello and popped my contact details on a clipboard and that was pretty much it, they would be in touch as and when. As luck would have it, they got in touch a week or so later and undertook a comprehensive vetting process. In early March I officially reported for duty as a hospital volunteer.

“My first few months’ activities consisted of being a runner, delivering medication to all the hospital wards that our Pharmacy team had prepared earlier. I enjoyed this role as you got to visit pretty much every facility within the hospital. Aside from the pharmacy runs, my other main role at that time was helping to coordinate and deliver to frontline staff the unbelievable volume of food and drink donations that we were receiving on a daily basis. I spent countless hours working in the kitchen chopping up strawberries, apples, oranges, melons, packing them into hundreds of containers that would fill 2 six foot trolleys, along with microwave meals, drinks and other snacks. I would then visit every staff room within the hospital and leave meals out for colleagues. Our incredible frontline staff were / are too busy to leave the hospital, so these little treats are a lifeline to keep energy levels up.

“Summer had arrived and I was scheduled to make my debut supporting patients on our Nightingale Ward. I must confess to being rather daunted by this as this particular ward primarily consisted with elderly patients who had dementia or had taken a stroke. Still, I put my name down again for the next day and soon like most new things, I quickly grew in confidence. On this ward, I spent time with some incredible patients – I loved listening to their wonderful stories!

“Throughout the last twelve months, visitors to the hospital have generally been a no-no due to COVID infection control, so the ability for patients to have someone to talk to has been priceless. Introducing some of our older patients for example to FaceTime or WhatsApp video calls to say hello to family and friends has been a huge success.

“For the last six months, my time has been split supporting patients on the Edgar Horne Ward (elective surgery) and from December to March 2021, working on the David Evans Ward (emergency surgery). The human ability to be resilient is incredible. So many of these patients are very ill, yet still possess a thirst for life, with an outlook that always remains positive. Every single shift, it’s really inspiring to chat to these patients and hear their own personal story.

“Led by CEO (Lesley Watts) and supported by so many hard working colleagues, I am tremendously fortunate to be working in a magnificent hospital that is held in such high regard. Even in the darkest of COVID moments, I have always felt completely safe (so much so, I feel much safer on the wards than I ever did sat on a London Bus or Tube).

“Of course, none of this would be possible without a magnificent Volunteering Team that we all report into on a daily basis. It’s a pleasure to be part of such a genuine group of decent people.

“Should you ever get the opportunity to become a volunteer, do grab it with both hands. Not only will you learn new skills, you will undoubtedly become a better person for doing it. Fast approaching 700 hours of voluntary work, let’s see what’s in store for the rest of 2021.”

Find out more about volunteering at our hospitals here.