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15th birthday memories: Dee Willmott

Monday 12 November 2018

November marks our 15th birthday and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported Chestnut Tree House over the last 15 years, starting with our wonderful volunteers.  Dee Willmott has been volunteering since before the hospice even opened and has kindly shared her story:

“I was recruited in 2002 before the hospice even opened, as they wanted someone to be on hand to open the door and deal with deliveries and questions. I saw the advert and, as a former special needs teacher, I thought ‘this is perfect’. Also, my father was cared for at Chestnut Tree House’s sister hospice, St Barnabas House, so it was just meant to be.

Dee Willmott

“To be here at the beginning, to first of all see the furniture coming in, then the staff settling in and then, best of all, to see the children and families coming in, to see the House coming alive, was fantastic! And I must love it because I am still here!

“When I first came, we only had two beds open. But now it’s a lot busier. There is so much going on all the time, for example, the activity days during the holidays; we didn’t have those at the beginning. We look after more families now and I have seen lots of new faces over the years. And of course, we have lots more telephone calls and visitors, which keeps me busy!”

As well as volunteering on reception, Dee also helps the hospice’s Fundraising Team at events, staffing registration desks and looking after participants.

Dee says, “I have had some marvellous opportunities over the years and have met some wonderful people. I have been to garden parties and golf days, the polo at Cowdray and an evening at Arundel Castle, as well as helping at lots of lunches and coffee mornings.”

Dee has also supported the hospice through her own fundraising and has even got her family involved. She has abseiled down Arundel Castle, organised a coffee morning on the Kingston Gorse Estate with her husband and friends, and her son James trekked the Inca Trail.  Between them, they have raised over £10,000.

“Chestnut Tree House is a big part of my life. I come every Monday and it gives a structure to my week and the chance to give something back. If I didn’t have Chestnut Tree House in my life, it would be a lot quieter! But I can’t ever envisage not coming – I love it!”