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Volunteers bid an emotional farewell as Grantham Hospital tea bar closes

Emotions ran high as staff and volunteers gathered to mark the closure of the Red Cross tea bar at Grantham Hospital last month.

The volunteer-led tea bar, which has been serving patients and visitors in the outpatients department for over 30 years, closed on Friday, May 25, as part of plans to modernise the shops and cafés within the county’s hospitals.

It follows the closure of the hospital’s WH Smiths newsagents in December.

Rebecca Burley, a sister in the outpatients department, helped to organise the surprise party as a ‘mark of appreciation’ for the 42 volunteers.

She said: “It was a chance for them to put their feet up as we served them.

“The closure will be a big loss for both staff and patients. We have already received comments from many of the patients about how much they will miss it. The volunteers don’t just stand behind the counter. They are a visible support for us all, often guiding patients to the toilets and providing directions.”

Red Cross Tea Room (2227021)
Red Cross Tea Room (2227021)

The volunteers tucked into quiche, cake and scones at the party before being presented with flowers and chocolates.

Doris Speakman, coordinator of the volunteers, described the closure as a ‘great sadness.’

She added: “For many of the volunteers, it has been a huge part of their lives throughout their mature years.

“We have all become great friends and get together twice a year , which we hope to still continue.

“On behalf of all the volunteers present and past, we would like to thank the outpatient’s department for the surprise party.”

Stephen Tongue, fundraising manager for the British Red Cross, said: “The volunteers who run the tea bar have literally made thousands of cups of tea and coffee, and provided a friendly face and a listening ear to many.

“The Red Cross is so proud of everything our volunteers have achieved and so grateful to all who dedicated their time to helping others in their community. We’d also like to thank the staff at Grantham Hospital for making our volunteers a valued part of the hospital community, and for a great send off last week. It is a moment of celebration tinged with sadness as we say goodbye to the tea bar, but mostly we are so grateful to all who were a part of it.”


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