Charity provides training to Saint Francis Hospice volunteers to record life stories of patients

PUBLISHED: 10:00 07 May 2019

Brian Farrant with Skip Atkins, a volunteer who helped Brian record his life story. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Brian Farrant with Skip Atkins, a volunteer who helped Brian record his life story. Picture: Saint Francis Hospice

Saint Francis Hospice

Patients at a hospice are now able to record their life stories and share precious memories with their loved ones thanks to the work of a charity.

Training and equipment is being provided to Saint Francis Hospice, Havering-atte-Bower, by Hospice Biographers, a new nationwide charity and so far it has trained 15 hospices across the country to help people tell their stories.

Skip Atkins is a volunteer at the hospice and has been specially trained to listen and record the personal accounts of people under the charity's care.

Skip said: “It's a privilege to be involved.

“I would have loved it if Jan had done it.

“To be able to hear the voice of the person you love telling their story in their own words is fantastic.

“My main role is to listen and record what people want to talk about.

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“Every account is confidential and each patient is given two USB memory sticks or CDs for them to keep free of charge.

“Some people may feel they have nothing particularly remarkable to say, but Skip says, everyone has their own life story to tell.

“Before I start, I meet with people so they know what to expect and have a chance to think about what they want to talk about – this may be happy times, their childhood, achievements or special memories.

“They may even want to leave a message to friends and family.”

One of the patients that Skip has been working with is Brian Farrant who recently celebrated his 80th birthday as well as his 56th wedding anniversary.

He said: “I really enjoyed it.

“I took the recording home and played it to my family and they loved it. They told me they had never heard some of the stories before.”

Skip is delighted that demand for the new service is growing and is giving people the option of recording their story at the hospice or their home so as many patients as possible can access it.

To find out more about the Hospice Biographers' service, email

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