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Pamela and Geoffrey Parker

Long-serving Hospice volunteers Pamela and Geoffrey Parker each spent more than three decades supporting St Nic’s, with Pamela giving her time for around 35 years and Geoffrey 30.

Recognisable faces among fellow volunteers and staff the married couple diligently supported our Orchard Day Services, with Pamela’s support stretching right back to the Hospice’s first home in Turret Close, Bury St Edmunds.

With Geoffrey passing away in August 2022 aged 91 years, and Pamela dying in January 2023 aged 92 years, we are grateful to their family for allowing us to share their story with us, giving us a chance to remember them both and the difference they made.

Their daughter Sarah recalls: “Mum started off her career as a hairdresser and then went into teaching. She was a school teacher for a long time and then she retired.

“When she retired she was asked by her friend Gwen to join the newly formed team at Turret Close, which is where the Hospice was originally based.

“Mum knew the difference just the simple thing of having your hair washed, it cut and styled could make, and how it could make such an important change to someone’s day, so she took her hairdressing skills with her.

“When the Hospice moved (to Hardwick Lane), Mum did too and carried on her hairdressing, but she was also a pianist so she played the piano for any services or any activities going on.

“If all of that wasn’t enough she also volunteered at the Hospice’s shop in St John’s Street. She would come back and she would tell us great stories about the shoppers and the great camaraderie between the people she worked with there.

“She thoroughly enjoyed herself, whatever she was doing. Whether she was at the Hospice playing the piano, doing people’s hair or serving in the shop.

“She would always say, ‘yes of course,’ if she was asked to do anything.”

Having retired as a retail director at Claas Geoffrey was presented with a list of jobs to do by his wife Pamela.

The list was made up of jobs that he could do when the sun was shining as well as ones that could be completed when rain threatened. However, despite also being able to enjoy fly fishing with friends, Geoffrey found himself wanting to do more.

Sarah explains: “He was just sitting down to breakfast one day and he heard an advert on breakfast radio saying that the Hospice needed volunteer drivers so he applied.

“Dad was calm, kind and had a good sense of humour. He was a great conversationalist and I know that the patients that he drove backwards and forwards would have enjoyed his company.

“I remember he did go and ask the ‘powers at B’ why do you still want me to drive when I’m in my 80s and he was told that the day he didn’t pass his driving test would be the day that they’d let him go.

“Dad was always a very smart chap, who was never seen without a tie.”

Sarah and her sisters Kate and Louise are incredibly proud of their parents and look back at their time with smiles.

Sarah says: “Myself and my sisters Kate and Louise were incredibly proud of what they were doing.

“They didn’t brag, they didn’t talk about it much, we just knew, and occasionally it would come up and we would hear about what they’ve been doing and we were just incredibly proud of them.

“They were doers and they liked doing things for other people. As well as supporting St Nic’s Mum was a church organist for over 50 years and Dad was a church warden. If anybody needed anything they were there. They were great role models.

“They’re not with us anymore, but we have their legacy, and we’re just so proud of them. It’s lovely for us as a family to know that they are been celebrated.

“The whole family are and will always be incredibly proud of them. They were lovely parents and in-laws, as well as grandparents, step-grandparents and great-grandparents.

“Even though they are not with us anymore it’s lovely to have the opportunity to speak about them.”