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Hospice volunteers recognised

Hospice volunteers recognised

December 5, 2007.- TWO hospice volunteers will take well-deserved breaks from their duties after being recognised for the exceptional work they do.

Hospice New Zealand has awarded the 2007 House of Travel Volunteer Award to Ecie Hursthouse, a volunteer at Auckland's Amitabha Hospice, and Rotorua Community Hospice volunteer Desrae Murphy.

The awards were announced today to coincide with International Volunteer Day.

Representatives from House of Travel, hospice's national partner, in both Auckland and Rotorua will present the two women with their prizes – a trip for two to the Gold Coast and four nights' accommodation.

Ecie works as Amitabha Hospice's managing director in a voluntary capacity and for the past 11 years has been the driving force behind the service she helped to set up.

Trained as a nurse, Ecie has been described by her colleagues as "a selfless human dynamo involved in activities across the entire spectrum of services delivered".

With help from her trustees, she has built up a network of specially trained volunteer caregivers who offer support for the physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs of people with terminal illness and their families. She not only recruits these volunteers, she also organises them and trains them.

Amitabha chairman Chris Destrieux says the award is a wonderful acknowledgement of the selfless application and total commitment that Ecie has brought to the task of helping people in great need.

"It also highlights the great work Ecie has done in educating people about the great need for more volunteers to help hospices in the work they do in the community."

House of Travel's Cath Lawson, whose design team is partnered with Amitabha, works closely with Ecie and says she is an amazing woman who is totally dedicated to the cause.

"Amitabha has a great set of volunteers – I've seen how they work and how much time they dedicate to hospice. With Ecie it's the uniqueness in the way she approaches her work which stands out. Being Buddhist-based it's a completely different philosophy."

Hospice New Zealand chief executive Mary Schumacher says the awards are designed to help recognise the unpaid work done in hospices by many community-minded people like Ecie.

"These awards honour the wonderful people who give their time to hospice, those that stand out for their passion, dedication and commitment to the work they undertake on a voluntary basis.

"Hospices rely hugely on the good nature of volunteers. Many services and activities would come to a halt without them. It takes a special kind of person to do such a job and I can't thank our volunteers enough for the amazing job they do throughout the country."

The second Volunteer Award recipient Desrae undertakes a multitude of tasks in her voluntary role too.

Desrae is team leader for the day programme for patients but she also finds time to be a companion sitter, provide transport for patients, help at the local hospice shop, support fundraising activities and help out with the Tree of Remembrance at Christmas.

A volunteer for the past eight years, Desrae is described by her colleagues as "gold", a huge achiever but a quiet achiever and a passionate, 100 percent pure volunteer.

Hospice New Zealand figures show volunteers like Desrae and Ecie give up more than $4 million worth of their time to the country's hospices each year.

They are two of more than 5000 volunteers who work in hospices and donate a total of almost 460,000 hours a year. The figures do not include the amount of time put into fundraising, which would account for another 460,000 hours.

ENDS

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