AN 82-year old, who along with her dog, Buddy, is a volunteer at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice says "If I can make a patient smile then I feel like I have achieved something."

Eleanor Monks, of Skipton, began volunteering eight years ago because she wanted to give something back following the support she received when her husband died.

"Without Sue Ryder nurses being there when my husband was diagnosed with cancer, things would have felt impossible," she said.

"My husband was diagnosed with bowel cancer and only given 12 weeks to live. He wanted to stay at home, and I had no experience of nursing or cancer so it was very difficult. One a nurse called Christine turned up and changed everything, she was a lifeline for us.

"She came every day and showed me how to help him and told me what to expect, and even supported me after he died. Volunteering is my way of saying thank you."

Eleanor's volunteering roles have varied over the years but more recently she decided to get her dog Buddy tested to become a therapy dog. Since then, Buddy has worked alongside his owner helping people at drop in services, day therapy sessions and more recently on the ward of Manorlands Hospice.

Ilkley Gazette: Eleanor and Buddy at workEleanor and Buddy at work

She added: "If I can make somebody smile then it has been worthwhile coming in for me. Buddy has such a big impact on the patients, to see a little white fluffy thing lying on the bed with them, it cheers them up so much. Every time we walk onto the ward someone will come up to him to say hello - I am just somebody on the end of a lead."

As well as volunteering at the hospice, Eleanor also makes 'memory elephants' patchwork elephants made from clothes of people who have died so families can remember them.

Ilkley Gazette: A memory elephantA memory elephant

Eleanor said: "A few years ago I was watching the news, and a lady was making teddy bears from one favourite garment. I decided to start making patchwork memory elephants, because elephants don't forget, and we don't forget our loved ones.

"The reaction to them has been amazing. People are often sad at first because it reminds them of the person who has died, but then they always say how lovely it is to have something so special to remember their loved one.

"If you are considering volunteering at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice this new year, I would say do it. It is a fantastic place to be with so much positivity, and there's so many different volunteering roles to be a part of."

Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice is always looking for drivers and receptionists to join its volunteer team. To find out more, contact Andy Longden on 01535 640179 or email