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John's incredible 50 years of voluntary service for Ripley Hospital

Published on Tuesday 11 June 2024

When John Briggs first took on the role of treasurer for Ripley Hospital’s League of Friends he was a young married 26-year-old with a one month old son and a full-time job in accountancy for the Cooperative Society. 


Fast forward 50 years and the passage of time has brought the usual life milestones – retirement and five grandchildren – but throughout all that time the constant thread running through his life has been his volunteering service for Ripley Hospital. Not only that, but in the same role as the league’s treasurer for the past half century.

A Ripley man born and bred, John has lived in the town or nearby locality all his life, with a strong sense of community, firmed rooted in the area he has always called home.

Now, as we celebrate national Volunteers Week (3-9 June 2024), we sat down with John to thank him for his incredible volunteering record and to ask him a few questions about what has inspired him to devote so much of his time to his voluntary role with the league.

He said: “Since 1974 I can probably count on one hand the number of meetings (for the league) that I’ve missed. It’s about commitment and service. When you walk through the door there’s a feeling of belonging. It’s an attachment to the people and the place.”

There have been many changes along the way and an astonishing record of fundraising and hospital improvements enabled by the work of the league, its members and close-knit committee: chair Phyllis Holmes, vice chair Brian Wright, secretary Jane Barnett and John. Between them the “gang of four” have 125 years of service to Ripley Hospital’s league.

In the past 24 years the league has funded improvement projects totalling well over £2 million (£2,165,570 to be precise as a treasurer must be!)

John added: “It’s not down to us. It’s the people of Ripley who give to the hospital and we are the custodians for dealing with their donations. There is a strong legacy for this in Ripley, as it was the people of Ripley who paid for the hospital originally and so we are carrying on that legacy.”

The days of largely cash donations, annual garden parties and regular car boot sales on the hospital carpark have been superseded. 

Donations are largely virtual and the hospital car park is busy at weekends with patients and staff on site for the urgent treatment centre. John remembers as a schoolboy taking part in a gymnastic display on the hospital lawn (now part of the ward area) during one of the league’s long-ago summer garden parties. Covid put a stop to the garden parties after 2019. But there is still plenty going on. The league-run tea bar is a welcoming focal point for anyone coming into main reception and the greetings cards and book sales alongside it. The memory tree is another popular innovation by the league as a way for people to remember loved ones who are no longer with us.

At 76, John has no plans to step back from his role as treasurer with the league just yet. He said: “I like doing it.  As time has gone on you lose track of just how long it’s been. I don’t see it as a role. I don’t set aside time for it, it’s just part of what I do.” His loyalty also saw him maintain an accountancy role with the Coop for 33 years before early retirement in 2007.

All of us at Derbyshire Community Health Services are immensely grateful to all the league’s members and especially to John who will celebrate his official 50th anniversary as treasurer of Ripley Hospital’s League of Friends on the date of the league’s annual general meeting on 17 October 2024.

If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities with Ripley Hospital League of Friends please contact secretary Jane Barnett: janealisonbarnett@btinternet.com

If you would like to find out about volunteering opportunities in other localities across Derbyshire Community Health Services please contact: Volunteer for Derbyshire Community Health Service Foundation Trust (dchs.nhs.uk)
 




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