Just five weeks into his early retirement in June 2018, 60-year-old Derek Richards suffered a stroke and spent several weeks in Sandwell Hospital.
When his physiotherapist suggested becoming a volunteer to help his recovery, Derek decided to head straight to the hospital shop to offer his time to Agewell so he could give something back to the hospital.
“I’ve always tended to be an introvert,” admits Derek, “so I’ve never done anything like this before. I started doing the trolley run on a Wednesday as I thought it would be good therapy to improve the movement in my left arm and leg.
“I walk from Hateley Heath to the hospital, load up the trolley and take it all round the wards, then walk home again. It tires me out but it’s made such a difference.
“When I’d had my stroke I could barely walk and I was told I’d never be able to move my left arm and never drive again. I thought ‘no way’. One thing I won’t do is give up. The doctors and physios have been brilliant and walking with the trolley has improved my movement such a lot. Now I can move my arm again and I’m able to drive.”
As well as helping his recuperation, Derek’s volunteering has also been benefiting other patients. “When I’m taking the trolley round, I’ve been asked to have a chat with patients on the stroke ward about how I’m getting back to health,” he says.
“It helps them to see how much you can improve with some determination. Now I want to get a t-shirt with ‘I’m a stroke survivor’ as I’m so proud!”
To find out more about becoming a volunteer, call 0121 796 9333 or click here to download a copy of Agewell’s volunteering leaflet and a Volunteer Registration form.