Geraldine steps down after 35 years
Film/ photo/ interview opportunity: 12.15pm on Tuesday 31 January in the Committee Room at West Suffolk Hospital. Geraldine Debenham, voluntary services manager, retires after 35 years with the Trust.
Staff and volunteers at West Suffolk Hospital will say a fond farewell to its voluntary services manager on Tuesday (31 January) when she retires after 35 years with the Trust.
Geraldine Debenham, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, joined the Trust in 1977, initially working as an evening housekeeper before inputting patient records into the first hospital computer. She became a personal secretary in 1982, after which her role quickly expanded to include work for voluntary services.
Geraldine was appointed as voluntary services manager in 1990, and has since overseen changes such as manning the front reception using volunteers. She also helped introduce the befriending scheme, which sees volunteers offer company and support to patients undergoing surgical procedures at the Eye Treatment Centre.
“I have absolutely loved my job and really enjoyed working with the hospital staff and our wonderful volunteers,” said Geraldine, who received an MBE in 2006 in recognition of her work. “I’ve met some really outstanding and selfless people.
“Throughout my time, the service has never stood still and has continued evolving to meet the changing needs of patients. We’ve always tried to use the volunteers effectively and appropriately, so that they can complement the services provided by our staff. I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved as a team.
“I think a key part of our success has been the recognition and support which the Trust has given us as the service has developed. The hospital management has always taken on board the importance of involving the local community, and that has provided us a very sound volunteering culture which has made all of our volunteers feel very valued.”
Geraldine is planning to spend more time with her family after finishing work, and is expecting her fifth grandchild shortly after her retirement. She is also considering taking on some voluntary work at a local school, and will continue to support the Friends of West Suffolk Hospital.
Nichole Day, executive chief nurse with the Trust, said: “We are extremely grateful for the huge contribution which Geraldine has made during her 35 years with the Trust. Our voluntary services have grown and developed significantly under her leadership.
“On behalf of everyone at West Suffolk, I’d like to wish Geraldine all the very best for her retirement.”