Three years on, he hopes that sharing his story will encourage others to follow in his footsteps as Hospiscare call for volunteers in the Mid Devon area.
Cliff explains, “Before I began I was a little worried that it would be all doom and gloom. I was soon proven wrong! It’s amazing to see how much people can overcome adversity.
“Some of my time is spent in day care at Pine Lodge, where I help out with whatever’s going on: playing cards with people, helping with meals, or going for a walk nearby.
“I also volunteer as a Care Navigator, where I’m matched to a patient and help them out as needed. It’s a pretty varied role. Sometimes I’m helping a patient work out how to cap his water bills, taking people to appointments, or just being there for a chat and a cup of tea.
“I’ve worked with six people so far as a Care Navigator, all of them very different. One of the patients I worked with took me fishing for the first time in my life; another was the most interesting man I’ve ever met. Our conversations inspired me to learn so many new things – every time I saw him I’d head back home afterwards and look up all the things we’d talked about!
“I worked in mental health nursing for forty years, where we never really had time to spend with patients. It might seem like you’re doing very little – and yet it actually makes such a huge difference to many people to just have a chat, see a friendly face and get a bit of a break.
“As a volunteer, it’s not all give. You really do get an awful lot back. For anyone thinking of volunteering with Hospiscare, I’d say give it a go – you’ll be surprised!”
Hospiscare is a local charity that provides specialist care for adults with any kind of terminal illness, as well as support for their carers and families.