Meet Val Brundle, Chairman of the League

With a combined age of 10,000 years, the 130-strong army of volunteers from the Sutton and St Helier League of Friends play an absolutely crucial role in the day-to-day running of our hospitals.

Whether that's serving people in the tea bar or the shop, raising money in raffles or donating funds to buy life-saving equipment, the League of Friends are a vital companion as we strive to provide excellent care for our patients.

The 'general' in charge is Chairman Val Brundle, who at a mere 60 something is one of the youngest in a group where the average age is close to 78.

And for Val, this year represents 23 years since she first volunteered. So, how does she and her colleagues keep the League of Friends going year after year?

Val said: "I started working in the tea bar and worked once a month in the shop. I still remember how nervous I was on that first day! Over time I became Deputy Chairman and then Chairman over seven years ago.

"As Chairman it is my overall responsibility to look after the group, and take care of everything, good and bad. I keep in touch with volunteers and chair the committee meetings we have once a month.

"Our role is crucial within the hospital, and we just want to make people aware of what we do on a day-to-day basis. We are one of the largest League of Friends in the UK and we play such an important part in raising money and donating it so that equipment can be bought to help care for someone, and ultimately help save someone's life.

"We are here at the request of the trust and we have an excellent partnership with the organisation, but I'll always voice my opinions!"

On average the charity raises over £250,000 a year, with the majority of the money coming from sales from the shop and the tea bar.

Val, who is married to Mick and has three children, added: "A lot of people don't realise that we raise so much money in our shops, and although we do receive some money from donations and our annual and life memberships, the bulk of our money comes from the day-to-day work we do.

"I love it here. When someone says thank you it really does make all the difference, and makes the whole job very rewarding. Like anything, it can be frustrating, but I love working here and I have no intention of going anywhere yet!"

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Healthy Workplace Achievement Award 2016 NHS Choices