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15 Nov 2019 Community

Volunteers making a difference

Here at Kirkwood, we have recently welcomed two new Ambassadors, Sam and Leanne Taylor-O’Brien, who have been volunteering at Kirkwood for over six years working hard to raise awareness of Kirkwood’s vital services in the Kirklees community.

Sam and Leanne Taylor-O’Brien, from Dalton, have been dedicating many hours to Kirkwood since 2013 when they moved back home to Yorkshire after a short time living in Liverpool.

Both Sam and Leanne have experienced Kirkwood’s services first-hand and have had both relatives and friends who were cared for at Kirkwood.

Leanne said: “My uncle died on Kirkwood’s In-Patient Unit 10 years ago and although I couldn’t be at the Hospice at the time, I knew how much it meant to my family that they were able to spend time with him every single day.”

When coming back to Yorkshire in 2013, they were keen to start supporting their local Hospice as a way to say thank you for the care they had given to Leanne’s uncle and family during a difficult time.

Sam and Leanne were at their local pub one evening when they met Dee Cobbett who runs a local Kirkwood Support Group and has been supporting Kirkwood for over 30 years. Dee was organising and recruiting volunteers to help her with her fundraising stall at the Kirkwood Christmas Fair.

Sam said: “Dee asked us out of the blue if we would like to volunteer and help her. We both jumped at the chance to be able to give something back to our local Hospice.”

 Dee's Support Group at Kirkwood's Christmas Fair

After the Christmas Fair, Dee invited them back to help at other local fundraising events and it wasn’t long before they became official members of Dee’s Support Group who raise thousands of pounds every year.

Sam and Leanne said: “We just love supporting the Hospice. We like to get involved with everything whether it is being elves at the annual Grottos, bag packing at local supermarkets or running a tombola; we just love the variety and meeting new people who have one thing common, supporting their local community.”

In addition to this, they both take part in annual events such as the Midnight Memory Walk and Colour Rush; they have also recently organised their own Cuppa for Kirkwood raising an incredible £818!

 Sam and Leanne with Santa at Kirkwood's Grotto

 Sam and Leanne at the Kirkwood Colour Rush

Sam said: “We both love a challenge, with Kirkwood always being our motivation.”

When asked why they enjoy volunteering for Kirkwood, Leanne said: “It gives you a confidence boost, you are pushed outside your comfort zone to talk to people. When you know it’s for the Hospice, you just do it because you want to help give back for what you’ve been given.”

Sam added: “It’s great to work as a team, you aren’t on your own.

“I would advise anyone to sign up to be an Ambassador. It’s flexible and it can work around you and your lifestyle. We both work fulltime and just do what we can.”

If you see Sam and Leanne at a local community event supporting Kirkwood, they would love for you to say hello!

If you are interested in becoming an Ambassador, or want to find out more, why not join us for our next meeting at Kirkwood on Thursday 12th December at 6pm.

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