Volunteers mark decade of helping Cantabrians breathe better

The Better Breathing volunteers celebrated ten years of service to the Integrated Respiratory Team last week, paying tribute to two long-standing volunteers in a special quarterly meeting.

Mac Renata and Pauline Mohi, two of the long-standing volunteers, were presented with a kete (basket) woven by a member of the team to recognise the significant contribution they’ve made over the last decade.  

Presenting the kete, Integrated Services Programme Manager Deborah Callahan honoured the two ‘exceptionally special people in our lives and in the community’.

“We want to thank, from the bottom of our hearts, the work and the passion, the never-ending energy and support that you’ve given to the Better Breathing programme and people with respiratory illness across the entire region,” said Deborah.

“I can't express how much we appreciate what you've both done for the service and for the people.”

Louise Weatherall, Respiratory Clinical Nurse Specialist, said working with volunteers as part of the Integrated Respiratory Service was the highlight of her career.

“It makes me feel so proud and I love coming to work. Thanks for all your time, your effort. It means a huge amount to me personally, but also to the service and to everybody else. So, thank you.”

Alongside the kete, Pauline and Mac were gifted a koru engraved with “your wisdom and strength has inspired so many.”

Established in 2008, the Integrated Respiratory Service has been fundamental in helping people get support for their breathing conditions.

This includes the eight-week Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation programme, the only evidence-based intervention available for people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Once completed, participants can join one of the volunteer-run, community-based coffee and exercise groups to connect with people who have similar conditions and maintain their exercise goals.

Mac said: “If it wasn't for the group that we have now, we wouldn’t be here so thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Pauline said: “It's been such an unbelievable ten years. I wouldn't be standing here for a start, but I don't know whether I'd be standing at all. It’s absolutely been a privilege to be part of this, so thank you everybody.”

People can talk to their general practice team to see if a referral to the free pulmonary rehabilitation programme is appropriate if they are struggling with their breathing.

Listen to Deborah and Louise explain why the volunteers are essential to the success of the Better Breathing Pulmonary Rehabilitation programme in this video. Find out more on the Integrated Respiratory Service webpage.

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