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Heart-warming Stories from Norwich & Norfolk University Hospitals Amazing Butterfly Volunteers

Written By: Caroline Stevens

An Emotional Goodbye

We visited Mr K for the first time on Friday 10th December. He was very sleepy but responsive to the Butterflies presence however was unable to communicate clearly. The volunteer was with Mr K when the ward came in with a phone call from his wife who wanted to try and speak to him as it was their wedding anniversary. The Butterfly volunteer helped to facilitate the call and spent some time talking to Mrs K who was very emotional and tearful.  At the end of the call, Mr K was heard by the volunteer to say a very quiet ‘goodbye’ to Mrs K which she heard and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

Mary felt she had done such an important thing by being able to support and assist with the phone call on such an important day to the couple.


Favourite Book

Following a referral from our Specialist Palliative Care team we started supporting Mrs G whose family didn’t like the thought of her being alone. This lovely 81-year-old lady was sadly unresponsive when we met her. On our second visit to Mrs G, she was alone when the volunteer arrived. This volunteer has taken to reading to her unresponsive patients and has 2 books that she reads from: Alice in Wonderland and The Wind in the Willows.

The volunteer was reading to Mrs G from Alice in Wonderland when her Son-In-Law arrived and was delighted to see that she had company. He asked what she was reading and responded that this was in fact Mrs G’s favourite book! He was so happy for this to continue that he insisted on going off and making the Butterfly a cup of tea so that she would stay and read for longer.

Mrs G died peacefully the next morning.

More and more as a BV Co-ordinator I find that the right volunteers ‘find’ the right patients – this heart-warming story goes to show just that.


Fish & Chip Supper

We had been supporting Mr O for a couple of days – he loved having visitors and seeing the Butterflies. On Tuesday morning, he told the visiting Butterfly that he ‘really fancied fish & chips’. Unfortunately when the BV fed this back to the nursing staff they said that if it wasn’t on the menu it wouldn’t be possible.

This was discussed at the BV debrief. Following this I spoke with Mr O’s named nurse to see whether he was allowed (and safe) to eat and it was confirmed that he was so I asked that if I could arrange it, would it be ok to get Mr O some fish & chips for his evening meal (we had already missed lunch). Mr O’s named nurse said that would be lovely.

I spoke with Chris  (Serco Customer Service Manager) who set about seeing whether this would be possible and following conversations with the Chef, a fresh bowl of batter was made and Mr O enjoyed fish & chips for his tea!

It’s lovely to be able to work together with our contractors to be able to provide this care for someone as one of their dying wishes.

If we hadn’t been able to arrange this internally, I’d already agreed with my VSM that I would go out to our local fish & chip shop the following lunchtime to get some for Mr O.


If you want to find out more about this fabulous Butterfly Volunteer Role at Norwich & Norfolk University Hospitals you can email us on for more information.


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