Ann proves age is no barrier to volunteering!

Ann Dolman

Date Issued: August 24, 2016

80-year-old Ann Dolman has recently completed her first shifts as a Patient Befriender on Alder Ward, Norwich Community Hospital, after joining as a volunteer.

Ann is the first volunteer to begin working on the ward, thanks to a new partnership between Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C) and Voluntary Norfolk.

As part of her new role, Ann spends time with patients, providing companionship and helping to improve their experience while they stay in hospital.

“I’m really enjoying it,” said Ann. “I thought being a befriender would be really worthwhile as the days can be so long if you’re an inpatient.

“I’m happy to introduce myself, and always explain who I am and what I do. Some people don’t feel like talking and that’s fine as they may have a lot on their mind.

“I like to think I’m a young 80!” she continued, “but I think my age helps because a lot of the patients at Alder Ward are elderly and we can share memories of when we were younger.”

Alder Ward, run by NCH&C, supports patients after they are discharged from an acute hospital until they are ready to return home.

After living in Cyprus for more than 20 years, and following the death of her husband, Ann, a former English teacher, returned to the UK with her two Cypriot rescue dogs, Barney and Polly. She took up volunteering as a way of keeping busy and meeting new friends.

“When I came back I didn’t know many people, and thought volunteering would help to fill my calendar. The training was very interesting; I went to an induction day with other NCH&C staff and then did some online learning, which I passed thankfully!

“To get a conversation going I ask questions, and it carries on from there. I make a point of asking everyone how they feel about the place. So far everyone says they’re very happy, and that the staff are kind, and the food is good!”

Jules Alderson, NCH&C’s Volunteer Coordinator said: “We have exciting opportunities for volunteers to get involved in a variety of activities across the county. These range from providing companionship on the wards and in the community, to supporting parents using our Sure Start centres, administration support for clinical teams, meeting and greeting patients, and drivers and pool car assistants in Wymondham.

“We would very much like to hear from anyone who has a little free time to spare and can help them find the best role to suit their interests”.

Anyone interested in joining us as a volunteer can contact NCH&C’s Volunteer Team by emailing:

More information about volunteering opportunities with NCH&C can be found at:

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