The Volunteer of the Month Award for December 2023 was awarded to Robin Robinson.
Hospice Marlborough is widely recognised as a place for providing high-quality specialist palliative care services whilst also delivering care and support for family and friends throughout a patient's illness, death, and in bereavement. When people think of Hospice Marlborough, it should provide feelings of comfort and care during the most challenging times. It is, indeed, a haven where those in hospice care, and their extended whānau, receive exceptional and comprehensive medical care, going beyond addressing physical symptoms, encompassing support for patients and their whānau, acknowledging the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of their illness and providing dignity and respect during the final stages of life. However, beyond its reputation, Hospice holds an additional treasure - the stunning Hospice gardens. What many may not realise is the profound impact that the gardens have on the wellbeing and healing process of those who spend time here. The gardens have become an integral part of the Hospice's identity, providing solace and a connection to nature for all who visit.
The gardens at Hospice Marlborough were started by the Wairau Garden Club when Hospice was built and they are now lovingly cultivated by a team of 13 volunteers, including many members of the club, led by Robin Robinson. Robin, one of Hospice Marlborough's dedicated volunteers has been a volunteer gardener for 12 years and served as Lead Gardener for the last 2-3 years. The gardening team averages a whopping 384 'recorded' hours of volunteer work throughout the year. Robin's commitment to enhancing the surroundings of the hospice is unparalleled and, over her time with Hospice, Robin has spent countless hours, along with the other team members, tending to the gardens, nurturing plants, and creating tranquil spaces that provide solace to those who seek respite in the midst of challenging circumstances.
"Hospice goes beyond just our bricks and mortar. The kōwhai, for instance, has been a feature of the Hospice NZ logo since it was founded in 1986. Historically the kōwhai bark was used in traditional Māori medicine for its healing properties", says Leigh Somerville, Events and Engagement Lead for Hospice Marlborough. "Nature has an incredible ability to comfort and heal, with benefits for both patients and caregivers. Immersing ourselves in our natural world can offer peace, reflection, and enable us to confront, and move through, our grief. We are incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful outdoor space thanks to Robin and her team."
Having learned many gardening skills from family and a dear friend over the years, Robin has also had a garden of her own featured in Garden Marlborough and realised that she could share those skills with Hospice to keep the standard of the gardens high over the years. Robin and her team have taken their expertise and passion for gardening and used them to transform Hospice Marlborough's outdoor areas into havens of beauty and serenity. The vibrant colours, soothing fragrances, and peaceful ambiance created by Robin and the team's careful selection and arrangement of flowers, plants, and trees serve as a gentle reminder of the cycle of life and death.
Moreover, Robin's dedication extends far beyond maintaining the gardens. "I enjoy getting to chat with the people who come through Hospice, hearing their stories, and finding common ground," says Robin. The feeling of empowerment that people get from connecting with nature and ultimately enhancing their overall wellbeing is incredibly important to her.
Volunteer Coordinator for Hospice Marlborough, Jacinda McKenzie says, "Robin is the connecting glue holding the team together. She is always willing to share her knowledge and nurtures everyone. But the whole team is welcoming and fun! Having connections in Marlborough are huge and this whole team has connections that they can draw on while fostering new ones in the community."
When Robin is not busy volunteering in the gardens at Hospice Marlborough or other gardens around town, she enjoys helping friends with their gardens and spending time with her husband and grandson. "I actually find some respite of my own in my work in the gardens," she says.
Robin's unwavering commitment and passion to both her team and for cultivating the gardens at Hospice Marlborough continue to make a profound impact on the lives of those who come to Hospice, their whānau, and the staff. The tireless efforts of Robin and her team have transformed the Hospice grounds into an oasis of healing and connection.
It is with great pleasure that Volunteer Marlborough recognises Robin as the Volunteer of the Month, celebrating her invaluable contributions and inspiring others to make a difference in the community.
(Photo [L-R]: Jacinda McKenzie (Volunteer Coordinator - Hospice Marlborough), Meg Martin (General Manager - Volunteer Marlborough, Robin Robinson)
Keen to give volunteering a go? Curious about where you can share your existing skills and experience, or build new ones? Get in touch with our team at Volunteer Marlborough on 03-577-9388, email email@example.com, or visit our website.
Thank you to New World Blenheim for sponsoring our Volunteer of the Month Award.