A Doncaster “diamond” who has clocked up more than 50 years of volunteering has chronicled the story of her selfless service for others in her newly published ‘autobiography’ – with all proceeds from it going to the hospice.
Elizabeth Taylor, 68, from Wheatley, charts her remarkable journey with Doncaster Cancer Detection Trust (DCDT) and St John’s in The Story of One Volunteer, an illustrated 36-page booklet retailing at £5 a copy.
Elizabeth’s story starts in 1971, when as a 17-year-old she was approached by legendary Doncaster fundraiser Jeanette Fish to help raise cash from donated items to pay for new local cancer facilities, initially operating out of the DCDT’s first charity shop in the Waterdale Centre.
The shop generated funds for a number of years, even staying open through the power cuts of the miners’ strikes when staff helped customers try clothes on by torchlight.
When not serving customers, Elizabeth spent her time unpicking cotton garments, with the material being used to make aprons and peg bags which were sold at 50p each. Nothing was wasted.
As cancer services expanded at Doncaster Royal Infirmary, the DCDT played an ever-increasing role in buying vital new equipment for the benefit of Doncaster people, with Elizabeth, Jeanette and other helpers routinely raising funds at summer galas in Auckley, Bentley, Cusworth and other villages.
From the early 1980s they started jointly fundraising for both specialist equipment and for bricks to build what would become Doncaster’s St John’s Hospice. The first brick was bought for £5 by then Civic Mayor, Cllr Margaret Robinson at the then Frenchgate Centre in October 1989.
A proud Elizabeth was present when the first turf was cut to mark the start of building work, by then local MP Harold Walker, in December 1990.
She said: “This was the most memorable day for me, when the site where the hospice was to be built off Weston Road, Balby, was blessed. I knew then our dream would soon become a reality. It opened in October 1992.”
Since then, Elizabeth has dedicated her life to her charitable work for both the DCDT and St John’s Hospice – which she describes as ‘a special place’ – raising thousands of pounds along the way and giving her time freely.
She continues to be a regular at St John’s, volunteering with the fundraising team every week on a variety of tasks and recently celebrated the hospice’s 30th, being pictured alongside huge cake specially baked for the occasion.
Elizabeth said: “I’ve no intention of putting my feet up, I enjoy it too much.”
Hospice fundraiser Lindsey Richards, pictured with Elizabeth, said: “The mould was broken after Elizabeth was made, she is a diamond, truly remarkable and it’s very difficult to put in words the affection and gratitude we have for her. Elizabeth the volunteer is a story of unrivalled dedication and commitment to helping others and we cannot thank her enough. Long may she continue.”
- The Story of One Volunteer was designed by Tracey Moran and is published by St John’s Hospice, with all proceeds going to the hospice. To order a copy:ring 01302 796662 or 03000 214870/71; or email the fundraising team at email@example.com; or via our facebook page stjohnshospicedoncaster