Kelly Holmes and Jamie Redknapp among stars to join NHS campaign

Dame Kelly Holmes, Jamie Redknapp and Alistair Cook among sport stars to join Mail’s NHS volunteer campaign

  • Sports stars including Darren Gough and Martin Keown behind Mail campaign
  • Frankie Dettori, Bryan Robson and Jonnie Peacock also pledged their support
  • The campaign urges normal people to help hospitals in any way that they can 
  • So far, 15,675 have signed up since Saturday to help the NHS across the country

A string of sports stars have gone into bat for the Daily Mail’s NHS volunteer recruitment campaign.

Jockey Frankie Dettori, Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes and former England cricketer Alastair Cook are among the sporting greats encouraging readers to support the initiative:

FRANKIE DETTORI (CHAMPION JOCKEY): ‘The Daily Mail/Helpforce campaign is a fantastic idea and I urge anyone who has a little spare time to volunteer. 

‘The NHS is a real treasure and comes to the aid of so many in this country. 

‘By offering to give a few hours to help out, volunteers will hopefully make a big difference to the hard-working NHS staff.’

Champion jockey Frankie Dettori has pledged his support to the Mail’s hospital help force campaign

BRYAN ROBSON (FORMER ENGLAND FOOTBALL CAPTAIN): ‘This is just a great cause. We all rely on the NHS being there for us and our families but they can’t always take care of everything on their own. 

‘Anyone who volunteers their time has my utmost respect and support. 

‘That extra pair of hands and teamwork can be so important as it affords the professionals vital time to help those who really need it.’

Bryan Robson said: ‘We all rely on the NHS being there for us and our families but they can’t always take care of everything on their own’

DARREN GOUGH (FORMER ENGLAND CRICKETER): ‘My mum was a midwife so the NHS has always had a special place in the hearts of all my family. 

‘But they cannot have enough help and I fully support this scheme to get more volunteers supporting their wonderful work. 

‘Every little helps and this is a marvellous way for everybody to do their bit.’

Darren Gough said: ‘My mum was a midwife so the NHS has always had a special place in the hearts of all my family’

DAME KELLY HOLMES (OLYMPIC CHAMPION): ‘It’s time to shout about all the incredible things the NHS does and the people that work for it. 

‘My family depended on the NHS last year, for the care of my late mother who had also worked for the NHS for 30 years. 

‘Thank you for everyone who does their best everyday and under difficult circumstances, to protect, care, prolong or save lives. You are all amazing!’

Dame Kelly Holmes said: ‘It’s time to shout about all the incredible things the NHS does and the people that work for it’

JAMIE REDKNAPP (FORMER ENGLAND FOOTBALLER): ‘This is a really important campaign. We never know when we are going to need hospital care. 

‘It is vital that we give the NHS all the support we can and volunteering is a great way people can help.’

ALASTAIR COOK (FORMER ENGLAND CRICKETER): ‘It only takes a few hours here and there to provide invaluable help to the doctors and nurses doing so much good work in the NHS. 

‘Boosting the number of volunteers is a wonderful way to support a great institution.’

Alastair Cook said: ‘Boosting the number of volunteers is a wonderful way to support a great institution’

MARTIN KEOWN (FORMER ENGLAND FOOTBALLER): ‘Volunteers provided a brilliant service when I took my dad to our local hospital in Oxford. 

‘They would help him into a wheelchair and look after him while I tried to park the car. It is great that people volunteer at hospitals but we need more.’

ANDREW STRAUSS (FORMER ENGLAND CRICKETER): ‘The NHS does an amazing job for everyone in this country but anyone can provide help to allow them to carry on their priceless work. 

‘I support the Mail’s campaign to attract volunteers to do their bit and allow the experts to save lives.’

JONNIE PEACOCK (PARALYMPIC CHAMPION): ‘I’ve been a patient in the NHS many times… when it comes to saving lives, they’re there, and they will do everything they can. 

‘So please support the Daily Mail and Helpforce campaign and sign up to be a volunteer. 

‘I promise you, it’ll be the best thing you’ve done.’

Jamie Redknapp said: ‘This is a really important campaign. We never know when we are going to need hospital care’

NASSER HUSSAIN (FORMER ENGLAND CRICKETER): ‘I am backing the Daily Mail/Helpforce project and would urge anyone who has time to give to consider getting involved. 

‘Volunteering to help the NHS could really make a difference – it is an invaluable resource to support the treatment and care of so many people in this country. 

‘That’s why this campaign is so important.’

PETER SCUDAMORE (FORMER CHAMPION JOCKEY): ‘Both my mother and father were helped by the NHS and, as a jumps jockey, visits to the hospital were a working fact of life. 

‘That’s why I am backing the Daily Mail/Helpforce campaign. If enough volunteers come forward it can make a huge difference and ease the pressure on a hard-pressed service.’

Nasser Hussain (right) said: ‘Volunteering to help the NHS could really make a difference – it is an invaluable resource to support the treatment and care of so many people in this country’

GREG RUTHERFORD (OLYMPIC CHAMPION): ‘The NHS is a wonderful institution and I am delighted to support this campaign by the Daily Mail and Helpforce. 

‘The work the NHS do is invaluable and anything that can be done to support it would be a great help. We can all be proud of the NHS.’

DAVID LLOYD (FORMER ENGLAND CRICKET COACH):  ‘Everyone has a story about an NHS hero – so now’s the time for everyone to get behind them! 

‘Volunteers only have to give up a few hours and take on simple tasks… but it can be a big win for you, staff and patients. 

‘I’m behind anyone who backs the Daily Mail/Helpforce campaign.’

Whatever your age, you CAN make a difference 

After more than 15,000 readers rallied to the Daily Mail’s call for hospital volunteers, we talk to two people who have been giving up their time – and hear how it has given them so much back in return.

Reporting for duty feels great

Eliza Palmer, 17, an A-level student from Tooting, south-west London, has volunteered at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital once a week for the past year. She works on the ‘bleep desk’, helping out across the hospital.

‘Monday afternoons are free on my timetable, but while my friends all go to lunch at the midday bell, I catch a bus to the hospital. I love reporting for duty – volunteering is something that makes me feel great.

I’m not treated like a 17-year-old schoolgirl, but a member of a team who plays a vital role in keeping the NHS running. I signed up a year ago, after seeing 24 Hours in A&E and wanting to know more about how a hospital works. It’s massively opened my eyes.

Good Health volunteer Eliza Palmer, 17, pictured with patient Jennifer Ware at Chelsea and Westminster hospital

Volunteers on the bleep desk are given walkie talkies and called to help out in situations across the hospital, such as wheeling patients from the ward for scans or collecting medicines. Recently I ran the whole way to A&E because there was an elderly man who needed fresh air but was unable to walk unaided. The staff weren’t free to help him, so they paged the volunteers’ desk.

When I took him outside we began talking. It turned out he was an artist – he was lonely, and had been in and out of hospital over the past year. An old friend happened to walk past and they swapped numbers and after 20 minutes, the patient felt well enough to return to A&E.


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By now he looked totally different – so much more relaxed. He’d needed to calm down and he needed company – the NHS staff hadn’t had time for that, that’s where the volunteers come in.

I love volunteering so much I’m taking a gap year so I can have specialist training to help patients with dementia, before applying to medical school.

Being in a hospital environment has shown me I want to become a doctor, but it’s made me appreciate what I have. Before I came here I didn’t realise so many patients are elderly and lonely, but at the same time they have terrific stories and incredible spirits.

Now many of my friends want to sign up because they’ve seen how much I get out of it too.’

It’s a joy getting to know people  

Colin Ogden, 61, a divorcee and father of a teenage son from Hartlepool, County Durham, became a volunteer driver four years ago after taking early retirement as a senior manager for the local authority.

‘I thought life would be busy and full after I finished 37 years in my job. But then came an afternoon four years into my retirement when I was on the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle and I realised this was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.

A few days later I happened to see an advert for volunteer drivers to help NHS patients who needed to get to appointments or a lift home. 

It took me back to something I’d seen 20 years earlier, when I’d been in hospital recovering from surgery and there was an argument between the staff and an 84-year-old patient – his frail wife was having to catch three buses home in the dark and he couldn’t bear the thought of her travelling in the cold and wet, so discharged himself so he could drive her home.

Volunteer driver for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS, Colin Ogden, co-ordinates and runs the service at the hospital

I realised this was exactly the sort of person I could help. I felt I owed the NHS, anyway, as years before I’d had spine surgery and the relief from pain was enormous. I always wanted to give back. 

The first step was a driver assessment – and because we use our own cars (we’re paid for our mileage) I also had to show evidence of an MoT and insurance.

I do three official two-and-a-half hour shifts a week to and from North Tees University Hospital and the University Hospital of Hartlepool. I also work on an ad hoc basis when needed.

It isn’t simply the drive to and from hospital that’s important.

I’m convinced that if a patient’s day begins with a smiling driver and friendly chat, their hospital experience will be more positive.

Our elderly patients seem to particularly enjoy the company, as many are desperately lonely.

The driver service desperately needs more volunteers, especially women with their own cars.

Recently, I ferried a girl home who was so terrified when she saw it was a man, she flung herself into the corner. Because she was in such a state, the nurse had to accompany her in the car home.

Most runs are, thankfully, a joy and we really get to know people. I’ve got dozens of thank you cards and letters – their messages are all the thanks I need.

In truth volunteering has filled a gap for me. When I left work I was surprised by how much I missed the companionship and the responsibility. Volunteering gets me out of the house – and I’m making a difference.’

There is no maximum age on volunteering. The minimum age is 16 although not all NHS organisations are able to take volunteers until 18 due to their own policies.

Volunteering makes everyone feel better: Patient health improves and visitors get a boost too, says major study

By Kate Pickles, Health Reporter

Older people visited by volunteers feel emotionally and physically healthier as a result, a study has found.

Seven in ten helped at home by members of the Royal Voluntary Service said they felt more able to cope with the difficulties and everyday challenges they faced.

A similar number said it meant they had more social contact and has assisted them to spend more time doing the things they enjoyed.

The RVS polled 2,000 older people who use its services and found 62 per cent felt more connected to the community as a result.

Volunteer Rosie Perry (left) working in the accident and emergency department at Frimley Park Hospital (pictured with Alfie Williams, 13, and Denise Hughes)

The charity, established 80 years ago, has more than 25,000 dedicated volunteers who provide practical support and companionship to lonely people. The findings show how giving time can make a difference.

Our Daily Mail/Helpforce hospital campaign is asking readers to volunteer for either three hours a week or one eight-hour day a month, for a minimum of six months. 

So far, 15,675 have signed up since Saturday to help the NHS.

The Royal Voluntary Service is backing the Mail’s Hospital Helpforce campaign by offering to take on any volunteers that trusts do not have capacity for.

George Costain, 74, who lives alone in Basingstoke, Hampshire, received support from the RVS’s Home From Hospital service after recently being discharged. 

Volunteer Gayle Allington visited him for several weeks, offering help with everyday tasks while putting him in touch with social clubs to further aid his recovery.

He said: ‘I have loved the visits from Gayle. She is a lovely lady. Gayle has got me out and about and put me in touch with clubs that I can go to now that I am feeling stronger. I am very grateful to RVS for sending me this lady.’

The RVS has inspired more than three million women and men to give their time since 1938. 

Today its focus is on helping people stay healthier and happier as they age, and supporting the NHS to have more time to care.

RVS chief Catherine Johnstone said: ‘Our volunteers have been providing pivotal support to the NHS since its inception and we’re delighted that through the Mail appeal more people will step forward to support their local hospital.

‘To volunteer one’s time is perhaps the most generous gift you can give: it is the gift of yourself. 

‘Volunteering offers enormous value for the person making the gift, and to those receiving it: it changes lives, changes communities and changes society. The sense of purpose and joy that can be derived from giving of yourself in support of others is incomparable.’

Now it’s 15,676  – and the army just keeps growing!

More than 15,000 selfless Daily Mail readers have now signed up to become NHS hospital volunteers. 

The number offering their time to help the sick and ease the burden on doctors and nurses continued to soar yesterday in response to our Christmas campaign.

By last night, a total of 15,675 readers had pledged a combined total of 896,328 hours over six months.

This comprises 9,223 who opted to volunteer for three hours a week plus a further 6,452 who said they will give a day a month to their local trust.

The Mail’s campaign with the charity Helpforce is asking people to give their time to the NHS in a show of support to patients and staff. 

The massive volunteer recruitment drive – the biggest since the 2012 Olympics – aims to fill important roles such as collecting prescription medications, befriending patients and helping at meal times.

Ms Perry tends to Shane Perera after he injured his rids and arm as Ms Hughes fastens his sling

It has already provided a huge boost for the NHS, increasing the health service’s volunteering force – which stood at 78,000 before the weekend – by some 20 per cent.

The campaign has received the backing of Theresa May, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Scotland’s main political parties and leading health unions.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, voiced his support for the drive and encouraged readers to ‘heed the call’. He said boosting volunteers will be essential for the NHS to deliver ambitious treatment upgrades.

The campaign has also been backed by stars such as Sir Tom Jones, Sir Cliff Richard, Joanna Lumley, Kate Garraway, Simon Cowell and Davina McCall.

A report yesterday by health think-tank The King’s Fund found ‘overwhelming’ support from NHS staff.

Readers can register their interest by filling out a form online to be matched with an NHS trust. They are being asked to volunteer for a minimum of six months. 

They will not replace doctors and nurses, but can carry out simple tasks to help patients.

Roles could include reading to patients, collecting prescriptions or tending hospital gardens. Some may use their own experiences of cancer or mental health to comfort others. 

Placements are likely to begin from the spring, once the necessary checks and training have been completed.

  •  You can join them at hospitalhelpforce.com

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