A retired gas engineer from Westward Ho! who has dedicated his life to voluntary work after becoming ill has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2018.
Roger Pullen, 71, was awarded the medal in recognition of his voluntary work for Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) and for helping to raise thousands of pounds for local charities.
Roger started his career working for British Gas as a qualified fitter before moving to South Australia. On returning to the UK, he progressed to become a technical inspector. He had to retire early at the age of 46 due to ill-health.
He started volunteering at NDHT in 2010 and has helped in a number of different ways, most recently through the patient experience team.
For many patients at North Devon District Hospital, Roger is a friendly face who comes to the wards to have a chat and to listen to them talk about their experience of care. Their anonymous feedback is given to staff so that they can understand what they are doing well and what they could improve.
Roger is 94% dependent on his pacemaker and has numerous health issues that mean he suffers from continual discomfort. However, he still comes into the hospital and carries out his volunteering work with a smile and a kind word for everyone.
Roger told us how it feels to be awarded this medal in the video below.
Roger said: “I feel so proud to receive this medal in her Majesty’s Birthday Honours. It has come as quite the surprise.
“In the 25 years since I retired, I have felt really strongly that I want to give something back to society, and particularly the NHS, because of my own experiences of care.
“It’s always a pleasure to come up to the hospital and be made to feel so welcome by the patients and the staff, who are so professional, so dedicated. It is a privilege to be a volunteer within this organisation and to give something back to our wonderful hospital in Barnstaple.”
Andy Ibbs, interim chief executive at NDHT, said: “On behalf of all at NDHT, I would like to congratulate Roger for this incredible achievement. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this medal.
“The service that he and all our other volunteers provide is really important to us, and Roger has shown unwavering courage in continuing to do this despite his health problems. I cannot thank him enough for the time and effort he has dedicated to our patients and staff.”
Roger was nominated by the communications and patient experience team, with the support of the NDHT Board. Roger works closely with the team as part of his role.
Jessica Newton, head of communications, said: “Roger is an amazingly selfless person and a fantastic part of our team. Patients and other volunteers are always so happy to see him and it is clear that he absolutely loves what he does. We are so proud of him.”
Roger also has a passion for helping local charities and has helped to raise thousands of pounds over the years. When he first moved to Devon in 1996, he supported the local lifeboat crew in Appledore, raising £1,000 in four years. He has supported the West Quay Fundraisers for over 17 years, who raise approx. £10,000 every year to share between numerous charities, including North Devon Hospice, Children’s Hospice South West, Headway and Families in Grief.
He also supports the Trust’s charity, Over and Above, and has helped to raise thousands of pounds that have gone towards numerous appeals, including the Seamoor Unit, an appeal for equipment for the Special Care Baby Unit, and most recently the North Devon Cancer and Wellbeing Centre appeal.