Volunteer Story: Janet and Dennis

Over more than seven years, friends Janet Clements, 65, and Dennis Croton, 77, have become absolutely indispensable to us

In busy periods, the pair volunteer two or three days a week in the Sydenham offices and last Christmas, they sent out a staggering 4,249 packs of Christmas cards to St Christopher’s supporters!

In addition, they regularly attend fundraising events; helping with the logistics of raffle sales, collections, registrations and handing out t-shirts to event participants.

Janet and Dennis are also proud to act as ambassadors for us in the community, giving talks and sharing and explaining the amazing work of the hospice to as wide an audience as possible.

Dennis says: “When I’m out and about talking to people it’s so wonderful to listen to their stories, I always hear how St Christopher’s has helped a friend or member of their family, and it’s these personal stories that really make fundraising for St Christopher’s so important. But it’s also great fun, we wouldn’t do it otherwise!”

Janet, from Mitcham, first became involved with St Christopher’s over nine years ago this month, when she decided that she wanted to continue the fundraising work of her late husband, who was a musician with the Crystal Palace Brass Band (which still performs at many St Christopher’s events). Having spent all her life working in insurance, fundraising for St Christopher’s has become an important fixture and focus in Janet’s week.

Janet comments: “I first started helping out by trying to find auction prizes for the Selsdon Park Hotel Ball, which was much easier then, than it is today! Since then, I’ve helped out with all kinds of fundraising activity, but I am most proud of the yearly collection scheme that Dennis and I established at our local Tesco Extra stores. Together, since 2011, we have collected over £7,500!”

Dennis, who lives in Anerley, is often recognised from his many appearances in the local papers, either fundraising or collecting presentation cheques on behalf of the hospice. Formally a Royal Marine, Dennis spent 30 years managing an off licence in Elmer’s End, where he often heard about the work of St Christopher’s through his customers.

Seven years ago when he came to retire, Dennis knew exactly what he wanted to do next. He says, “I’ll never really retire, I’m not that kind of person. When I stopped work, I wrote immediately to St Christopher’s. Mind you, when I was called for an interview I didn’t really want to come, as I’d never been in a hospice before. But the moment I got here, everyone was so welcoming; they really are a lovely bunch of people. I get so much positive feedback, and so many friendships too. These last seven years have been terrific and I haven’t looked back – we even got to carry the Paralympic torch back in 2012 representing the hospice!”

Fundraising manager Fran says, “Janet and Dennis are just amazing. They are always so cheerful and ready to help, even if you say, ‘oh, and another thing, please could you just help with this’ they get straight on with it and just keep going! They are both wonderful, and I don’t know how we’d manage without them.”

"I always hear how St Christopher’s has helped a friend or member of their family, and it’s these personal stories that really make fundraising for St Christopher’s so important"

Volunteers Janet Clements and Dennis Croton