Cricket coach Fred Slater is completely bowled over by the way he has been welcomed into the fold at East Cheshire Hospice.
He became a volunteer in the Sunflower Centre a year ago and enjoys the company of people with dementia and their carers.
His next role as one of the charity’s Community Champions is a similar ‘buddy’ role in someone’s home, giving their carer vital respite for a few hours each week.
Fred, from Tytherington, said: “I’ve really enjoyed helping the Hospice. It’s so inspiring and I’ve learned so much from chatting to people within a group.
“It’s about finding out what makes individuals tick. You might get someone who doesn’t want to engage particularly, but you get a jigsaw out and suddenly they spring to life and they see the picture far better than me.
“The staff there are fabulous and I’ve learned so much. They’re so professional with their patience and caring approach and are the real unsung heroes of the service.
“We get a thorough background about who we’re looking after and in some ways I just fill around the edges.”
Fred, aged 66, worked for the English Cricket Board before retiring, but still coaches at King’s School, Macclesfield, and helps juniors at Macclesfield, Bollington and Ashley cricket clubs.
He regrets not taking his late father Fred to the Hospice for the sessions. “I didn’t know about the Sunflower Centre otherwise I’d have taken him there. He was an inspiration to me and now I’m retired this voluntary work is his legacy.
“Being matched with someone is an important small step for me on my journey and I’m looking forward to it.
“More than a dozen Community Champions visit homes but they don’t provide nursing care. They enjoy the company of individuals while their carers may go for a walk, shop or perhaps visit a library.
“The Sunflower Centre provides wonderful support and it’s re-assuring to know that expert staff are there as a safety net.”
Fred and fellow volunteers were finalists in the Volunteer Team of the Year at the 2019 North West Charity Awards.