The MAELOR Voluntary Service (MVS) turned 25 years on Thursday, May 16, with dedicated volunteers and staff providing a service for those who visit the Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

The charity, over the last quarter of a century, have been built around the ideology of giving each and every customer who uses one of the charity’s five café’s the security and knowledge that every penny spent by them goes straight back to help patients and staff at the hospital.

To celebrate the achievement of reaching its 25th birthday, trustees old and new gathered in the front café of Wrexham Maelor, and Leader reporter Liam Gotting attended the afternoon’s festivities, speaking to the current Chairwoman, as well as various volunteers who have dedicated their time over the years to do their bit.

Jenny Griffiths, Chairwoman of MVS, explained how the charity has developed since it began in 1994, and how significant it has become in 2019.

“MVS began 25 years ago by ladies who had worked for the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, who decided they wanted to set up their own charity.

“They set up the one café back then, and now fast forward to today, there are now five cafés

“Originally, we were a very small charity with very few volunteers, we now have over 160 people who volunteer, including students from schools such as St Joseph’s and Clywedog.

“We also have quite a few volunteers who have special needs, in fact, we actually employ three people with special needs, giving them the independence that they need.

“I believe MVS has become very important because it is a service, and if you’re in hospital, on a ward, and you are allowed to come out to a café is a huge sign. It’s a big psychological boost that you are finally getting better; you are allowed off the ward, you get to communicate with someone else and you realise real life is still existing outside of the ward.

“The service that the cafés provide are so important, particularly the one at the Shooting Star ward because, sometimes, when you’re going to see an oncologist, you just need five minutes to sit and have a coffee, gather your thoughts before you go in. Afterwards, whether you’ve received good or bad news, you might need five minutes to sit and think about the information you’ve just received.

“You need that time, and that is what that service is for.”

This year, MVS donated over £215,000 to enable the hospital to buy medical equipment far out of its budget.

There are over 160 volunteers, ranging from 15 to 89-years-old, all of which complete at least one shift per month, lasting three hours serving food and drinks to the public.

The youngest of all the volunteers is Grace Worrall-Davidson, a 15-year-old student from Ysgol Clywedog, who explained what drew her to volunteer for MVS.

“I really enjoy helping out with the community, charities like these always need an extra helping hand and to be helping out here at the hospital, I just think it’s such a great cause.

“MVS is like one great big family, you get to know everyone so quickly, and everybody is so nice and makes you feel welcome, makes you feel part of the team.

“I help out in the café’s, usually making tea’s and coffee’s, and at 12 o’clock I’ll go into the kitchen and I’ll help make fruit pots and I’ll clean. I really enjoy it.

“It makes me feel happy seeing everyone that’s turned up today, there’s so many people that help and get involved, and as I said it’s like a big family so it’s great.”

Dilys Moore, a long-time volunteer, explained why she thinks helping the hospital is a worthwhile cause.

“I started volunteering for MVS because the hospital is something that affects literally everyone, at some point in your life, no matter who you are, you will need to visit the hospital for one reason or another.

“It’s always so important to give even just a little bit back to the community, and there’s no facility that is used more in any community than the hospital, so it’s of extra importance to make sure we can help to provide the best equipment for the Maelor.

“The thing about volunteering here is you share the experiences of patients and those visiting. People will come here for a drink to have a chat with us or to sit and think about what’s happening.

“You see people in tears, and you share the sadness with them, but then you see people who have just had babies, or they’ve received good news and you get to share the happiness, excitement and jubilation with them as well.”

Despite reaching its 25th anniversary, MVS still has trustees volunteering today who were around the very first day it started, with one of these being Heulwen Thomas, who said that she will continue to volunteer until she is no longer physically able to do so.

“I’m so glad to still be here helping out today, and I hope to continue doing this for as long as I can, if I ever had to completely finish, I don’t think I’d know what to do.

“I’m so chuffed to be here today and know that I’ve been a part of this from the beginning, I’m very proud of what MVS has become, and I know that it will only continue to grow.

“I have dropped down to one half-day a week now, I used to do two days a week, but it’s been wonderful to be a part of it all, I’ve enjoyed every second.

“Being here from the start, it’s amazing to see how it’s grown over the years with more and more volunteers joining us every year, it’s all down to great management I’m very proud.”

Mrs Griffiths concluded by thanking the hospital for their continued support and said that she’s excited to see how MVS develops in the future.

“In the next 25 years I would like to see, as the hospital develops, we develop with it, and as the hospital grows, we can provide even more services to those who need it.

“We’re very grateful to Wrexham Maelor for their constant support, they’ve helped us develop and allowed us to redevelop this whole café area.

“Where we originally served toast and teacakes, we now do jacket potatoes, bacon baps, we make our own sandwiches and salads.

“10 years ago, we weren’t able to provide the services that we provide now, and I’m excited to see how much we will have grown and developed 10 years from now.”