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Thelma Emmans' Story

Written by her daughter, Anneliese Emmans Dean

‘I am quite possibly the least important cog in the wheel that makes the Hospice work.’ So wrote my Mum, Thelma Emmans, in her original ‘Tales of Tang Hall’ article, an edited version of which was published in the St Leonard’s Newsletter in 2016, and is reproduced below.

But I’ve worked out that the ‘least important cog’ that was my Mum helped bring in way, way over £100,000 for St Leonard’s during the nearly quarter of a century that she volunteered – for one afternoon a week – at the Tang Hall shop.

And so when she arrived at St Leonard’s as a patient, just before Christmas 2018, the staff weren’t wrong when they joked with her that it was now ‘pay-back time’. And they paid her back – as I’m sure they treat all their patients – with huge kindness, respect and care, right up to her death in January of this year.

During the three weeks she was lucky enough to be cared for there – ‘It’s so peaceful here’, she kept saying – she was particularly touched by the cards she received from her fellow Tang Hall Hospice shop volunteers, whose friendship she cherished. Indeed, she asked me to take this photo of her with their cards, to show the ladies how much she appreciated them.

Since her death I, too, have been very touched by the messages these volunteers have sent me, describing my Mum as:
‘a very special person … a pleasure to volunteer with … kind and so helpful with our customers’
‘such a lovely lady’
‘always interesting and interested in other people from all sides of life … a perfect volunteer’
‘a wonderful raconteur … a true lady’

I’ll finish with the words of the current Tang Hall shop manager, Sue Bonarius:
‘A lady called Thelma had her first interview at the 4th Avenue Hospice shop on 7.8.94. And a lady arrived, gentle, thoughtful, understanding, caring, helpful, loving, always willing to listen. Thelma loved working at the shop, and the shop loved Thelma.’