Cathy Whifften, 52, from Woolston, was first referred to Mountbatten in 2019. She was diagnosed with breast cancer five years previously, which then spread to other organs, including her brain, lungs and pancreas.

Since then, she’s had several stays on the Inpatient Unit for respite and can’t speak highly enough of exceptional care from staff and volunteers. Together, the team don’t just provide medical care but all-round support to Cathy and her family.

“Everyone is wonderful. The first time my 12-year-old visited, he was a bit scared and upset, but the nurses took such good care of him. They found him some chocolate and helped him to feel better.”

The calm and welcoming environment helps Cathy feel relaxed from the moment she comes in. The patio outside her room connects to the garden, and a volunteer gardener often invites her outside to help with the weeding.

“I like pottering about and having my hands in the soil. It’s so important for my mental health.”

Whether they lead activities like gardening or serve meals and drinks, the volunteers always bring an extra smile to her day – especially when they bring her an extra packet of her favourite biscuits!

Regular respite helps to make life easier for Cathy and her family, and she’s looking forward to heading back home soon, where her kids and cats make a big fuss of her.

When she’s at home, she is supported by a 24/7 Mountbatten community nursing team, who are at the other end of the phone whenever she might need them.

In a video to celebrate Volunteers Week 2023, she thanked all the volunteers for what they do to support people like her.

From roles in fundraising to admin support to retail or rehabilitation, they’re all part of the community that supports over 1,000 people to receive Mountbatten’s expert care and support every day.

This volunteers week, we’re celebrating them and the incredible difference they make to people with life-limiting illnesses across Southampton and large parts of Hampshire.

Get involved in volunteering