National Volunteer’s Week: Gabrielle

June 20th, 2024

After a life-time of nursing, Gabrielle wanted to help anyway possible. On retirement, Gabrielle gave up her paid job and started looking for opportunities to volunteer.

“I think I started in 2003, when I retired from work. I’ve always been a nurse, but retired formally when I turned 62. I always wanted to do something which gave me a reason to give up my paid job. I wanted to do something for pleasure really – and so I did.”

Today, Gabrielle gives her time helping with arranging flowers in the Hospice Inpatient Unit in Newtown. She shares about the early years, “they coached me on dealing with grief and dying, which was good, but because I worked in a hospital already I wasn’t concerned. Once I graduated from that, they gave me a position helping wherever I could. I said “oh I’ll do anything” and started off handing morning and afternoon tea around.

Later, there was a lady doing the flowers who needed some help. I’m not a florist, but I didn’t mind giving her a hand by washing the vases. She was a lovely person who’d been volunteering for a long time – I learned a lot from her. So I graduated from handing out tea, to being a florist!

I worked with our first beautiful flower lady for 10 years, until she retired. Now there’s a lovely group of three of us, all of whom have been here at least 10 years – we love our role and are really good at making sure fresh flowers are setup around the Hospice.

Mainly we place and refresh the flowers by throwing out old water in the vases and straighten everything up, so that the flowers will last a week. Our group has some super people, some experienced, others learning, but most of all we’ve become great friends. We’re all at a similar stage in life and support each other, it’s wonderful.

We love placing flowers in the public areas, and if we know somebody’s just passed away that day we always put the little fern by the door. And when a new patient arrives, we put a little vase on the locker as a greeting. For me, it’s the satisfaction of knowing I’m doing something that brightens up somebody else’s life that means the most. What our team does is a great help for the relatives and reminds me that I’m lucky to still be fit and well.

Since retiring, I’ve wanted to help as a volunteer. Doing something clinical made sense, but I am very happy providing comfort through the flowers we provide – it’s wonderful to be involved in such wonderful work!

Thank you to our amazing volunteers who work with our patients, families and whānau, keep our shops operating and support our staff behind the scenes. Your time, skills, experience, fundraising and passion supports Mary Potter Hospice to offer our valuable services free of charge.

We hope you enjoy volunteering with us as much as we enjoy working with you. If you are interested in volunteering for Mary Potter Hospice, we’d love to hear from you! View our current volunteer vacancies here, or email with your enquiry.