Bob keeps job at hospital

BOB Hanks is a familiar face on Ipswich Hospital's Westerfield Ward - and has been for almost 40 years.

BOB Hanks is a familiar face on Ipswich Hospital's Westerfield Ward - and has been for almost 40 years.

The 83-year-old has been a volunteer on the ward since 1985, and previously worked there as a healthcare assistant.

He remembers the days when there were less computers and when the ward, along with the now closed Orford and Bealings wards, was called Amulree after geriatrician Lord Amulree.

But despite changes, he says he has no intention of stopping.

Mr Hanks, who was born in Ipswich, moved to Sunderland with his now ex-wife and then moved back to Ipswich in 1963, volunteers at the hospital every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9am to 2pm.

He said: “My main job is making beds. It's the first thing I do every morning. I also help with taking drug charts to the pharmacy, collecting medication and refilling shelves with toiletries.

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“Now there's too much writing and putting things on the computer. The nurses have so much of that to do they can't do as much with the patients. That's why they are glad to have volunteers' extra pairs of hands.

“The other thing that niggles me is that there are jobs I know how to do because I did them as a healthcare assistant that I'm not allowed to do now because I'm not insured.

“If I see a patient struggling to get up or about to fall over, I have to call a nurse - I can't help them myself.”

Mr Hanks, of Spring Road, Ipswich, said one of his worse memories is the day when a violent patient kicked him in the genitals and he had to have an emergency operation to fix a rupture.

Westerfield Ward is on the northern side of the hospital, which has more than 400 volunteers, and is the only ward remaining dedicated to elderly patients. It is due to close this year and the staff will move elsewhere in the hospital.

Mr Hanks said: “I can't remember if I've been at the hospital 37 or 39 years in total.

“When I first started work I was called an auxiliary, not a healthcare assistant.”

Mr Hanks has two daughters and two sons, the oldest of which is 59, 16 grandchildren and he is now expecting 21st great grandchild. The family all live in Ipswich.

He previously worked in the building trade but had to stop after an accident - and as he was volunteering at the Red Cross he became an auxiliary there without needing any formal training.

During the Second World War he made ploughs at the Ransomes factory which were used sent out in front of troops to disturb the land and turn up landmines.

Mr Hanks was featured in the Evening Star when he won the Volunteer of the Year award at the hospital's staff awards in April.

His nomination read: “His work is much appreciated by all members of the ward team. He is a really valued member of the team.”

n See for video footage of Mr Hanks at work.

N Do you know someone at the hospital with an interesting story? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

For too long the older generation has been overlooked as people suffer care homes closing, dwindling pensions, hospital wards closing, and not enough carers in the community.

The Evening Star's Golden Years series aims to make sure that the older years really are Golden Years.

We will:

Listen to our older generation.

Fight for dignity in old age.

Make sure older people get the voice they need to raise the topics that matter to them.

Crusade on issues affecting pensioners.

Inform older people about the help and assistance available for them.

Dig out those inspirational stories that show old age need not be the barrier to a fulfilled and active life.

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