WHAT could a hospital not do without? The first thing that comes to mind for many would be doctors, nurses, beds and medical equipment. But how many people would answer 'volunteers'? Reporter HOLLY BRESLIN talks to some of the people who work tirelessly at Halton Hospital as volunteers.
THE volunteers at Halton Hospital work to keep the hospital running smoothly, giving up their own time to help the staff and patients.
The 77 volunteers, most of whom are retired, provide a number of services including manning the information desk at the main entrance and ceaselessly fundraising.
Rose Prodmore, 76, is one of the longest-serving volunteers, having worked on the information desk since 1988.
Mrs Prodmore said: 'I first came to the hospital for physiotherapy on my back and that's when I heard about the need for volunteers.'
Rose lives with her husband John at Abbots Lodge in Runcorn. John, 78, also works as a volunteer on the information desk every Tuesday morning, and has done so for the past 13 years, after a little encouragement from Rose.
Mr Prodmore said: 'Volunteering at the hospital is very interesting work and I get a lot out of it.
'I have got to know so many people and we have made dozens of new friends. We know most of the staff who work here who are all very friendly.
'It's also something me and Rose can do together.'
John Ainsworth, of Windsor Grove, Runcorn, began working as treasurer/fundraiser for Halton Hospital League of Friends nearly four years ago, after he took early retirement due to ill health.
Mr Ainsworth, 66, said: 'Three months after retiring I realised I had done everything there was to do the house and garden. That's when I started to volunteer at the hospital simply to get out of the house!
'Now I'm hardly ever at home, I can come in whenever I want but I choose to work five days a week. It is much more enjoyable than my old job as a building surveyor as there is much less pressure.'
The League of Friends was set up in 1988 by Graham McSweeny to provide a service to Halton Hospital.
The League is run almost entirely by volunteers and raises funds for the hospital in various ways, such as through the shop, the tea bar, selling newspapers and sweets to patients, a lottery and the book stall.
All the profits go straight to the hospital to purchase vital medical equipment.
Cheryl Simpson, volunteer coordinator, said: 'We have a desperate shortage of volunteers and there of lots of opportunities within the hospital.
'Absolutely anyone can volunteer whatever their age. We even had one lady join us at the age of 82.
'A lot of older people, for example, if they have been widowed, don't leave the house at all until they start volunteering.
'Some people wish to give something back if for instance they have had a loved one treated at the hospital or who died here.'
The work of the volunteers is invaluable to the hospital and their hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed by the paid staff and management.
Every Christmas the volunteers are treated to a themed dinner party where they are waited on hand and foot by the doctors, nurses and senior management.
Mr Prodmore added: 'The rewards you get from volunteering far out-weigh the effort put in. We're like a big family here.'
If you feel that you can spare a few hours a week, please contact Cheryl Simpson, volunteer coordinator on 01928 753258.