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Volunteer Coordinator then Volunteer herself

Beverley Graham

These days Beverley Graham holds the fort at the Starship Information Desk every second Monday and the occasional Friday – but her involvement with Starship Children’s Hospital goes right back to the very beginning, and beyond.

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Originally Beverley held the role of Volunteer Coordinator, however after retiring in 2005 she quickly stepped into volunteering at Starship herself and she continues that today.

Beverly was a primary school teacher in rural Waikato, but a move to the city of Auckland in the 1980s prompted her to take a new direction in her career and she was excited to see the position of Volunteer Coordinator at Princess Mary Hospital advertised in 1988.

“This position came up, and I just knew it was perfect for me,” says Beverley, adding that one of the most rewarding things is being able to give that little bit of assistance to people in a time of need. “I have so many wonderful memories of my time as Princess Mary, and then Starship.”

Beverley recalls Princess Mary Hospital with some fondness, especially the way the single staff cafeteria brought everyone together, but admits that moving into the new Starship building was breath-taking.

“It was so wonderful to be in a new, clean, attractive and stunning environment,” she says. “It was an amazing experience to walk through the big glass doors into level three and look into the Atrium.”

“The new wards were such a huge improvement from the old Princess Mary that the parents, staff and volunteers could not believe how great it was.”

Beverley held the role of Volunteer Coordinator from 1988 until 2005, responsible for the training, rostering and movements of volunteers across services including Hospital Grandparents, the Toy Library, Starship’s Information Desk and Radio Lollipop. During the Starship years she met plenty of famous faces.

“There was much interest in this uniquely designed children’s hospital and part of my role was to help coordinate and organise requests to visit – which often involved police and others.”

“HRH Prince Charles officially opened Starship and he specifically requested to meet some of the volunteers. That was a very exciting day.”

“We welcomed Princess Anne, and the Crown Prince of Japan and his wife, who loved meeting with some young patients who were sitting at little tables in the Atrium busy with art activities. The Royal New Zealand Ballet performed in the Atrium. Michael Jackson, Michael J. Fox, Jonah Lomu, The Wiggles and many children’s choirs, bands and orchestras gave of their time to brighten the day.”

Beverley maintains that the most lasting memory for her is the amazing dedication and caring of the wide range of volunteers.
“I really enjoyed meeting all these people who willingly gave some of their precious time to brighten up the lives of others.”

When Beverley retired from her position in 2005 a volunteer colleague created a personally embroidered book containing a collection of hand-written shared memories and thank you messages which she continues to treasure today along with a collection of old photographs. She transitioned from her role as Volunteer Coordinator straight into becoming a Starship volunteer herself and today enjoys giving back to the community of Starship children and their parents.

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