Phil celebrates 30 years of volunteering service

Tony Beardsworth and Phil Lewis
Tony Beardsworth and Phil Lewis

A leading local charity’s longest-serving volunteer has spoken of his love of helping out  for a good cause as part of a national campaign.

Phil Lewis has been a handyman and odd job worker for Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) for more than 30 years and shared his experiences for National Volunteers Week.

He is a familiar face at the charity’s Hindley HQ, fulfilling tasks such as putting up noticeboards, filling bird-feeders, moving desks around and painting walls. Even back-breaking physical tasks such as changing the heavy on-site oxygen tanks fails to dent his enthusiasm.

The former bus driver also spoke about the dramatic events that led to his volunteering in the first place: his career being suddenly ended by impaired vision suffered in an accident when a drunk-driver ploughed into his vehicle. He said: “After I came out of hospital they told me I could never drive again and I was classed as unemployable. After about a year my wife thought it would be a good idea to try volunteering at the hospice.

“I just have such a laugh here, I have as much fun with the patients as I do with the staff.

“I was asked if there’s ever a day when I wake up and feel as if I don’t want to come in but there never is. The people are friendly and I always enjoy it. I’ve done all sorts over the years. When we were at the old hospice in Poolstock I remember we had to take a chimney stack down.”

Phil started volunteering in January 1987 and did at least three days a week for the hospice until he turned 65 in 2013, when he cut down to two.

When not at the hospice Phil is still regularly called on for his skills as a handyman by neighbours in the same sheltered accommodation in Wigan town centre.

He said: “I’m always getting calls from neighbours wanting me to do jobs. It might be putting up a toilet roll holder or a towel rack. Someone called me the other day to ask if I had some superglue – I always carry some – and it turned out she wanted to glue her dentures back together. There’s one lady who can hardly walk who’s always calling on me to do jobs and we have a good laugh.”

Hospice maintenance officer Tony Beardsworth said: “I know that if we need something doing Phil will be happy to help. He’s very humble but nothing is ever too much for him.

“To have volunteered for 30 years is a fantastic achievement and on behalf of everyone at the hospice I’d like to thank him as a friend and a colleague for his dedication and commitment.”