Derek, 90, is dedicated to hospice

NINETY-YEAR-OLD Peter Neate is showing no signs of slowing down as he was awarded for his long service as a volunteer at an Ipswich charity.

Naomi Cassidy

NINETY-YEAR-OLD Peter Neate is showing no signs of slowing down as he was awarded for his long service as a volunteer at an Ipswich charity.

Mr Neate, of Stanley Road, Felixstowe, enjoyed a surprise double celebration when he was given a birthday cake for his 90th and handed a long service award for 20 years of hard work at St Elizabeth Hospice.

After retiring from his job in the civil service in the late 1980s, he became involved in the initial building appeal for a hospice in east Suffolk and continued to volunteer after the first patient was admitted on November 1, 1989.

Since then he has assisted the fundraising team, manned reception and worked as a ward clerk. He is also a hospice ambassador, which involves representing the charity at cheque presentations and gives talks to community groups and organisations.

In 2005 he was awarded the prestigious Order of Mercy, a national award for distinguished voluntary service.

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Mr Neate, who has two children and three grandchildren, said: “I had been doing other volunteering and reached a stage where I wanted to have a change.

“An opportunity arose to help out with an appeal to raise money to build a hospice and I have been involved since then.

“It was so pleasant that I decided to stay. They are all such charming people.”

Hospice staff and fellow volunteers came together for a special tea party for the celebration, where Lesley Cockerton, the chief executive, awarded Mr Neate with a long service award, birthday card and a large birthday cake, made by the Hospice catering team.

He said: “It was very embarrassing because I don't like to be in the limelight but I was delighted with the award.

“Volunteering at the Hospice gives me great satisfaction and provides a focus for my life. I will continue volunteering as long as I can. I enjoy it very much and I would encourage others to volunteer as well.”

If you are interested in volunteering at the Hospice or would like more information, contact Elena Obiang Ondo, voluntary services coordinator, on 01473 707016 or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk

- Have you been a volunteer for a charity for many years? Tell us your story. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Fastfacts:-

- St Elizabeth Hospice was established in 1989 and cares for patients in east Suffolk who have a life-limiting illness

- The services, all free of charge, include an in-patient unit, day care services, out-patient clinic, a Hospice at Home service, family support team, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and complementary therapies such as massage, reiki and aromatherapy.

- It costs £10 per minute to run St Elizabeth Hospice with annual running costs of £5.2 million.

- For further information about St Elizabeth Hospice, its work or how you can get involved contact Helen Causer or Leanne Thorndyke on 01473 723600 or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk