Spotlight On: Geoff Shannon – adding a telescopic view of volunteering for Wirral Hospice St John’s #hospicehero #volunteer #wirralhospice #wirral #wellbeing

GeoffIf you get a chance, please spend a little bit of time with our Wellbeing Centre’s charismatic and engaging volunteer, Mr Geoff Shannon. He’s the kind of person, you just know, who will help you out if he can possibly do so.

He was recently spied across the hospice gardens ‘up-cycling’ (painting) some of Wellbeing Centre’s darker furniture into an eye-catching and bright, shabby chic! It was a nice day and a perfect opportunity to take a photo of one of Wirral Hospice St John’s ‘volunteers in action’.

A brief discussion allowed me to find out that Geoff was recently retired, was soon to be spending more time volunteering in the Wellbeing Centre and that he had actually previously been helping out for a year at the hospice’s main reception, every other Monday between 6pm and 9pm.

We asked Geoff’s permission to use the photo on Social Media. Some 3,000 people showed their love and support and, after also seeing several heartfelt comments, I knew we needed to find out some more about Mr Geoff Shannon so we had a chat over a cuppa in our Hub Café.

He began his career in 1970 at Plessey Telecommunications in Liverpool. From apprentice to fully qualified mechanical engineer over the next six years, Geoff was ready for pastures new. This was not only in his working life, in 1976 he married his sweetheart, Brenda. (These days Brenda also volunteers, at Arrowe Park Hospital).

A growing family, son Matthew and daughter Jenny, followed, and Geoff’s skills took him in many directions work-wise until he settled in Wirral. After spending 15 years at the world famous Champion Spark Plugs in Upton, Geoff bagged the mechanical engineer’s job of a lifetime.

Telescope Technologies, based at Twelve Quays in Wirral was originally set up to build a 2 meter optical telescope to search the cosmos from La Palma in the Canary Islands. The business was funded by Liverpool John Moores University and Canadian Entrepreneur, Dill Faulkes. Geoff was part of the team that built the telescope here, then took it apart again, and re-fitted it in place in La Palma. Nice Work, if you can get it!

The company’s ambition grew and Geoff subsequently worked in India, Australia, Hawaii and China, refitting and building telescopes, all making a significant contribution to our universal understanding of space. His final job before retiring was for the organisation, the National Oceanographic Centre, which owns our own Bidston Observatory in Wirral.

LUAL Geoff, Penny, AshleySo how does a space-age engineer find himself volunteering at Wirral Hospice St John’s? Well, after retirement, Geoff knew he wanted to give something back if he could. He was aware of Wirral Hospice St John’s in the same way many people are. He had a broad idea of what hospices do. He knew we ‘did good’. He knew we supported people with life-limiting illnesses.

So, just over a year ago and sitting in the Light Cinema in New Brighton waiting for a film (Geoff can’t remember which one – surely it was Blade Runner 2049?), the hospice’s ‘volunteering’ commercial was aired. He applied the next day!

Previously Geoff, and son Matthew, have raised funds for blood cancer charities. Matthew actually completed the New York Marathon and there is a reason for his choice of charity. For the past 8 years Geoff has been living with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. It is a condition where white blood cells (lymphocytes) are overproduced in bone marrow. It is serious, but if diagnosed early can be treated for many years through careful monitoring of people’s lifestyle and diet. Geoff is living well with very few  interruptions to his daily life.

He and Brenda dote on their Granddaughter, Lucia, (Matthew and his wife Faye’s daughter) and have a lot more time to spend with her since retirement. Next year they’re all looking forward to daughter Jenny’s wedding to her fiancé, John. Very soon, Geoff’s skills are going to come in handy, working with our Wellbeing Centre patients on some really interesting activities, (We’ll definitely be keeping  you posted!)

Before long, I expect we’ll be seeing our first ‘live’ robot volunteer, or maybe a De Lorean time machine or even our own hospice telescope! Wirral Hospice St John’s Observatory, has a nice ring about it.

We’re all looking forward to seeing it, and you, our Geoff.

Author: Billy Howard

Advertisements

The beautiful game…zorb style! #football #zorbing

zorbIf you’re looking for an event that’s a bit different, active and very entertaining, then take a look at Zorbing Football!

Zorbing is becoming increasingly popular for those into their fitness – you’ll see zorbs being used in many boot camp classes and for those just looking for a bit of fun!

You can ‘harness zorb’ and speed roll down a hill at 30mph, ‘aqua zorb’ and have complete movement inside a zorb which is pumped with around 30 litres of water and of course, zorb whilst playing a glorious game of football!

Interested? Of course you are! Type ‘zorbing football’ into YouTube and we guarantee you’ll be inspired to try it! With this in mind, we’ve decided to bring the fun to you and will be hosting a Zorbing Football Tournament on Saturday 11th July at Croxteth Leisure and Wellbeing Centre, 10am-12pm for those adventurous enough to have a go!

The event begins with a safety briefing and practice session, where players will get used to the zorb suits. This means you will be running around bumping and crashing into each other. When you have the feel for your suit, the fun can truly begin!

Rather than tackle, use the more effective barge to win the ball off your opponents, sending them flying end over end in the process. When in control of the ball, if you can stop yourself howling with laughter for long enough, dribble it forward before smashing it home past the goalie, but beware, a barge could come from any direction!

The event will finish with games including Zorb Bulldog / Last Man Standing and a zorb crossbar challenge!

Whether you enter as a team with your friends or an individual, you are guaranteed to enjoy this hilarious version of the beautiful game!

Playing time: 120 minutes (players will be rotated on and off frequently to allow players to catch their breath!)

£30pp – includes full use of the suit, participation in tournament and games, team photo for each player

To book call 0151 343 0778 or email Kerry at kerryt@wirralhospice.org

If you would like to find out more about what we have planned for 2016, visit our fundraising and challenge events pages on our website.

%d bloggers like this: