Tales of Friends

Margaret Parr has written a book on volunteering in the NHS. She is pictured with Mimi from Farmer Parrs.
Margaret Parr has written a book on volunteering in the NHS. She is pictured with Mimi from Farmer Parrs.
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MORE than half a century of volunteering with the local League of Friends means Margaret Parr is not short of a story or two.

The 81-year-old, from Fleetwood, has so many memories from her 53 years of volunteering at Wesham Park Hospital, Rossall Hospital and Fleetwood Hospital, she could write a book. And she did.

History, Events and Memories on a Journey of Volunteering in the NHS over Five Decades, has already sold 100 copies, raising £500 for the League of Friends of Rossall and Fleetwood Hospitals.

The story recounts her memories over the years and details numerous fundraising events, including summer fairs, barbecues and car washes held by the League of Friends, and how the money was used to provide what would be today considered basics – furniture, vending machines, and even clothing for patients.

She has photos and memories of the celebrities and dignitaries she met over the years, including Hi-de-Hi! actress Ruth Madoc, comedians Cannon and Ball and the Duke of York. She talks about changes she has seen, new buildings, different ways of working and tremendous developments in medical procedures and technology.

She said: “I had no intention of writing a book, but had a lot of photographs, speeches and notes in scrapbooks about working with the League of Friends.

“It did bring back a lot of memories and reminded me of all the changes over the years in the NHS, physical changes but also the concept of care and new technology.”

Her most vivid memory is the first time the volunteers took patients out on a coach from Wesham Park Hospital. Many of the patients had been inherited from the old Wesham workhouse.

“Some of them did not have day clothes. Some of them had not been outside the hospital for 15 or 16 years. I cried all afternoon.”

Another favourite memory is the time Mrs Parr attended a special event to celebrate 40 years of the Queen’s reign at Earls Court, which she says was a “wonderful experience”.

She also recalls the time she met Princess Alice, when she opened Clifton Hospital, and the two occasions she met the Queen Mother.

Mrs Parr received the MBE in 1988, and the Order of Mercy medal from the League of Mercy.

Mrs Parr, who still volunteers with the library trolley at Rossall, said: “The League’s excellent work over the years will be required just as much into the future.

“Just having the time to speak to patients make them feel reassured. Someone independent, not their family or involved with the NHS.

“The League has two functions – first of all to raise money through charity efforts to supply things the NHS cannot afford to supply, and, perhaps more importantly, to provide services such as trolley shops, birthday cards and to chat to patients. And they will always be needed.”

For a copy of the book call (01253) 876841 or contact Mrs Parr, through Farmer Parrs Animal World, Rossall Lane, Fleetwood.