So, when her husband was diagnosed with liver cancer five years ago and given two years to live, she knew just where to turn for help.
Sadly her husband died just four months after that diagnosis after catching the superbug C.dificile in hospital. He spent his last five days in Joseph Weld Hospice.
Pauline had a year out, but returned afterwards: “I thought about what I wanted to do next and this seemed the logical thing to do, having been here from day one. I considered everyone here as not only colleagues, but friends.”
Pauline worked as a member of staff for 14-and-a-half years after coming here initially as a volunteer. In 2010 she became a volunteer again, to enable the reception staff at Hammick House to take their lunch breaks.
She said: “It’s changed a lot over the years, it’s got so much bigger and lots of extra things have been added, such as art therapy, but the thing that hasn’t changed is the care. People are coming in and out all the time now, whereas in the beginning we’d think we were busy with half a dozen people all day. The first summer fete we organised between eight of us and now hundreds of people are involved.”
She now clerks for our Motor Neurone Disease clinics, helps out with admin and staffs the reception desk in our day centre.
She said: “I think it helps with continuity, people see me here every time they come to the clinic and I know their circumstances – it probably makes it a bit easier for people not to have a different face every time. I make the coffee and tidy up and suchlike.
“I’ve learned a lot about dying, I’ve learned an awful lot about bereavement, helping people, talking to people who were recently bereaved or going through a bereavement. You’re the first person they see when you’re on reception. If you can help them by talking to them I consider that to be of great importance.”
When her husband died she felt shock: “I never thought in a million years it would be me. But it means I now know how the hospice works in every respect.
“I’ve stayed friends with the other people in my Weldmar bereavement group. The nine of us meet up and have a Christmas do, celebrations and other events. We splashed out and had a spa day to celebrate the end of one of the ladies’ chemo and another’s 80th birthday.
“I was married to my husband for 46 years and we had lots of plans for our golden anniversary. I couldn’t face doing any of them apart from the photo shoot, and I made myself book in and get some natural photographs. I was so pleased with them.”