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Two years into retirement, Derek became a volunteer driver with Mountbatten. He helps people across the Isle of Wight access our services while doing something he loves.

“I enjoyed being retired, mowing the lawn regularly, going on holidays, converting our garage. But when my big projects were done, I started getting bored and wondering what to do next.

“My neighbour, who is a Mountbatten nurse, told me about volunteering. I’ve always enjoyed driving, so this role felt like something I could do.”

For over ten years, Derek, 73, has been driving patients to and from the hospice in Newport, where they can access medical care and take part in social groups, quizzes, and games.

“I feel like I’m doing a small bit for the cause. It doesn’t take much of my time – a drive usually only takes about half an hour, but for the people I help, it’s their only way of getting out of the house. Some live on their own, and the day I pick them up is the one day they can go out and socialise.”

“We talk on the journey not about their care and illness but about anything they want to talk about. I ask them about their life, or we talk about sports or other interests.

“When you make them smile on a bad day, it gives you a buzz and a good feeling. Even just to hear ‘thank you’ from someone is very fulfilling.”

“Some people I’ve driven for years, and I build real friendships with. I do feel sad when they die – but knowing you’ve made a difference to them is incredible.”

Depending on the patient, Derek drives his own car or takes the Mountbatten ambulance – an adapted vehicle to transfer patients with wheelchairs and mobility aids. He also sometimes takes the role of patient escort, travelling with the patient in the back of the ambulance to keep them company and offer any assistance.

“I’ve seen more of the Isle of Wight than I’ve ever seen in 40 years of living here. I’ve found little lanes and backstreet roads and big old buildings. I find it fascinating.

“I’m very flexible with my hours, so I can help with special requests like going to the mainland or taking people on special trips to the beach for ice cream. I even once took a lady to Osborne House to see the seafront there. It’s always special and makes such a big difference for someone who is coming to the end of their life.”

The flexibility also works well for Derek, who enjoys all the benefits of working with the freedom of retirement.

“When you leave work, you stop seeing as many people. You don’t pass coworkers in the corridor or stop at their desks for a morning chat - it gets a bit lonely.

“At Mountbatten, I’ve gotten to know the patients, doctors, staff, and other volunteers, and we have a great community. I regularly have a coffee with other drivers after we do drop-offs.

“But I only do the days and times that I want to do. Some people commit to a certain time every week, like every Thursday afternoon. I prefer to take it week by week so I can be there when they need me, but it’s always agreed a week in advance, so I can plan my personal life too.

“For me, that’s what it’s all about. Living an enjoyable life where you can do what you want but also making time for what’s important. Volunteering gives me that balance.”

You could make someone’s day as a volunteer driver with whatever time you can spare each week.

Apply below or see other roles.

Apply to volunteer