Bobby Grant, our longest serving male volunteer, has dedicated the last 37 years to supporting St Andrew’s Hospice.

Bobby’s involvement with the hospice started when Sister Charles of the Sisters of Charity provided spiritual care when his wife Patsy was ill witch cancer and sadly passed away in October 1983.

At that time, the Sisters of Charity ran Assumption House in Airdrie, a nursing home for the elderly but they wanted to open a hospice to provide care for people with terminal illnesses.

They were offered the land that the hospice is still on today on Henderson Street, Airdrie. This had previously been the site of St Margaret’s Primary School and ironically, this was where Patsy had first started in her teaching career.

The fundraising target was £1.2m and there was a fundraising committee chaired by Tom Lynch tasked with raising this money. When Bobby joined, much of the fundraising was small, local events like bingo, bring and buy sales etc. Tom’s idea was that 50 people could raise £24k each to meet the target.

Bobby suggested that they needed to think bigger with the fundraising and suggested a Grand Raffle to win a car. So in 1984, the first hospice Car Raffle was held and everyone in the community was tasked with selling raffle tickets. The car was driven to shopping centres, supermarkets, even Highland Games to generate interest and sell tickets, raising over £11,000.

Although the full fundraising total hadn’t yet been achieved, the Sisters of Charity gave a loan to allow the hospice to be built and it opened in 1986. By 1988, the £1.2m had been raised and the fundraising committee was wound up.

In 1990, Bobby took early retirement from Tennent Caledonian Breweries and planned to take a few months out and then begin a driving school. However, the week after he retired, Hospice Administrator Mary Blaney asked him what he planned to do with his time as the hospice were looking for a volunteer driver for their new day unit. Bobby agreed to this and therein started 25 years of driving for the hospice.

As well as transporting thousands of patients to the Hospice over those 25 years, he also drove the minibus for staff outings and every Thursday, the inpatients would go on a day for trips to seaside or visitor attractions.

In recent years, Bobby has been assisting with the collection cans. Once they’ve been emptied, Bobby ensures they are cleaned and sealed and ready to go back out to local businesses. However, due to the COVID-19 risk, he has decided to step back from volunteering for the time being.

Bobby’s first involvement with the hospice was selling raffle tickets and shaking collection cans at community events, trying to get them filled. His extended family and friends all remember having Airdrie Hospice (as it was known then) collecting cans in their houses and being chased up by Bobby to get them filled and returned. So it is quite fitting that his most recent role was emptying the cans for the Hospice rather than filling them!

It’s not only Bobby who has dedicated so much time to supporting the Hospice, both his daughter Christine and daughter-in-law Sharon are both Staff Nurses here at St Andrew’s. Christine and Sharon were on hand to celebrate Bobby’s achievements with him on Friday (18th September).

Bobby was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from the Hospice’s Director of Mission and long-time friend, Sr. Catherine Egan.

Joy Farquharson, Deputy Chief Executive of St Andrew’s Hospice also thanked Bobby for his extraordinary efforts: “On behalf of the Trustees, the SMT, Staff, the patients and the community of Lanarkshire our heartfelt thanks and admiration for 37 years of voluntary service.”

Bobby later thanked his friends and colleagues at the hospice, telling them: “Every volunteer will tell you, you get far more out of volunteering than what you put in.”