Meet Graham Hill - one of Rowcroft's 'hidden stars'

Hospice volunteer and car

What a star - Graham Hill - Credit: Rowcroft Hospice

Graham Hill is one of Rowcroft’s hundreds of hidden stars.

Day after day go the extra mile for their patients, making such a difference to the quality of care that the Torbay and South Devon hospice provides.

Graham is their maintenance technician, and he also drives patients from place to place, transporting them between Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit in Torquay, patients’ homes, Rowcroft’s Outpatient Centre, local hospitals, GP surgeries and train stations.

His friendliness and kind-hearted spirit shines bright, radiating through in his expert service, and highlighting how it’s often the smallest acts of kindness that mean so very much.

“I transport patients from one place to another - to make sure patients get to where they need to go - but I sometimes divert the route a little so that we can see a special place that means so much to them, such as a church where they got married, a home where they grew up, or even to Torquay Harbour to see the cruise ships,” said Graham.

“Seeing these places again brings back memories; it helps patients to forget their illness just for a moment, to escape for a little while from all things clinical and to see the places they love.

"We live in such a beautiful part of the country, but that’s easy to forget when you’re caught up in a clinical world of appointments and medicines. 

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“Recently, when taking a patient home from the Inpatient Unit, she asked if we could go via the sea, to have a look at the cruise ships in Torquay Harbour. So we drove down there, and I could see what it meant to her.Her face lit up as her memories came flooding back."

Recently, Graham also helped an elderly husband to visit his 92-year-old wife who was being cared for in Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit. The husband really wanted to see his wife, but it was going to be a long and arduous journey involving two trains – particularly worrying for him given the risk of contracting COVID on the train - and a long, steep walk up Rowcroft’s driveway. So instead, Graham went to pick him up from his home and dropped him off at Rowcroft’s Inpatient Unit, where there was a freshly prepared lunch of fish and chips waiting for him. And of course, Graham drove him back home again.

"When I’m transporting patients or family members, they often love to chat about the history of Rowcroft,” said Graham. “In particular, they are fascinated by Ella Rowcroft and they love hearing stories about Ella. So I tell them all about Ella: how she struggled with rheumatoid arthritis and had to use a wheelchair, and how her generosity laid the foundations of the Rowcroft we know and love today.

“If I’m not transporting patients, then I spend my time doing maintenance jobs around the hospice. While I’m outside doing these jobs, patients and families sometimes come over for a chat. We have a few jokes and a laugh, and they love to hear all about the history of the estate. They are intrigued to hear there was once a boating lake at Rowcroft and an underground bunker. While we chat about all this history, it takes their minds off their troubles for a short while."

While Rowcroft has a small Inpatient Unit in Torquay, around 80 per cent of its patients are cared for in their own homes across South Devon. The charity is facing numerous pandemic-related challenges, including a reduction in income due to the closure of its local shops, and an increase in demand for its care, particularly for its Hospice at Home and community services.

For further information about Rowcroft’s work, please call 01803 210800 or visit Rowcroft’s website at: www.rowcrofthospice.org.uk