Friday 4 October marks World Smile Day, an occasion dedicated to acts of kindness and bringing smiles to others. Harvey Ball, a commercial artist from America, created the smiley face in 1963 and the image went on to become the most recognisable symbol of goodwill and cheer. He believed that for at least one day each year, we should devote our time to acts of kindness and sharing smiles and thus he declared that the first Friday in October each year would become World Smile Day.
To celebrate World Smile Day this year, we have asked our volunteers to share their memories of those that have touched their lives during their time with Hospiscare. We hope that their stories will spread a smile today and encourage you to share your own memories of loved ones to kindle a smile this 4 October.
Peter Hill, one of the Lottery Administrators at Hospiscare, also volunteers as a care navigator within his local community. In his volunteer role, Peter visits patients at home to provide practical support, as well as a friendly face. Peter feels fortunate to have many memorable moments during his time volunteering with our charity.
“I remember helping a lovely elderly lady who was a patient at Honiton, but I would see her at home. She was over ninety and I saw her on the run-up to last Christmas. She didn’t have any decorations in her house so I asked her what had happened to them all. She said, ‘oh I can’t be bothered with all that, it’s under the stairs somewhere’. So I bought her a little light-up Christmas tree and a card holder to hang on the back of the door and she was so pleased with that!
“This lady was absolutely amazing; she had an oesophageal cancer that meant her throat was closing from time to time. She always insisted that she wanted to stay at home but on Boxing Day she was taken ill and after seeing her GP, was given a bed in the hospice at Searle House.
“I came in to visit her two or three times each week and even on the Saturday before she died, she was still making me laugh. She told me about a male nurse in the hospice; he had come over to her at three o’clock in the morning and asked her if she was okay. She replied, ‘yes, why?’ and he said ‘well, you’re still awake and it’s three o’clock in the morning!’ She had explained that she was too hot and couldn’t sleep, saying ‘I think it’s this nightie. I’ll let you in on a secret: I don’t wear a nightie at home.’ The male nurse replied, ‘well, I’ll let you in on a secret: neither do I!’ She told me that she laughed so much at this that she peed the bed!
“Even two days before she died, she was still that sort of character – a lovely lady.”
Through his time as a care navigator, Peter has also had first-hand experience of helping patients with dementia.
“I remember helping a man with dementia with his weekly shopping. I asked him if he had his shopping list and he said he did but when we got to the shop he began to pat down all of his pockets. He had left it at home! Luckily I could remember what he usually buys so we went around the shop and bought all of his usual stuff, including six frozen chicken meals. I asked him if he realised that he had picked up six of the same meal and he replied ‘I like chicken.’ So I thought alright then, but when it came to queueing at the till he started patting down all of his pockets again – he had forgotten his wallet!”
Mo Rowe volunteers at Searle House, the hospice in Exeter, where she arranges flowers with her good friend and fellow volunteer, Ruth Smith. Mo recalls:
“We had an American couple here and I remember that they were so overwhelmed by the care they received. They could not believe that they didn’t have to pay for their care, like they would at home in America, because of the generosity of people’s donations.”
Ruth too has many memories of patients that have stayed with her and smiles fondly as she remembers a very personal connection.
“Some years ago, I was looking after my grandson who was probably eight or nine at the time, when I had a call from Searle House asking if I could come in and do the flowers because someone was away. I checked with his mum, thinking I could bring him in with me and he could watch the television. His mum was fine about it so he came in with me but when I suggested he sit and watch TV he said ‘no grandma, I’m coming with you’. It was amazing how he related to the patients and the patients to him. The difference in generation didn’t matter when he talked to them. As we left, he said ‘well grandma, I know where to come when I’m ill’.”
You can take part in World Smile Day this 4 October by sharing the memories of your loved ones that make you smile.
During the festive period, Hospiscare holds a series of ‘in memory’ events as part of our Light Up A Life campaign, giving you the opportunity to write a dedication, light a candle, or purchase on online star in memory of a loved one who is no longer with us. Details will be available soon on social media and our website
We know that sharing smiles and spreading kindness is not just limited to one day of the year. If you would like to find out how to make a difference in your community by volunteering for Hospiscare, get in touch with Vicky or Bob by calling 01392 688005 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org