Dilufer began volunteering a year ago for the Imperial Health Charity and has now recruited her daughter to join her each week and support St Mary’s Hospital.
1Can you explain your role in one sentence?I am a volunteer guide at the Fleming Museum at St Mary’s Hospital. Before I started this volunteering I didn’t know anything about Fleming. Now I tell visitors about Dr Fleming’s life, talk to them about the exhibits we have here and play them a short film about Fleming’s discovery of penicillin. I also take payments for entry fees and sales in the shop. I normally volunteer on a Wednesday, although when volunteers are away I am happy to step in and come more regularly.
2How long have you been doing this volunteering role?I have been volunteering here for a year. I have just received my one-year recognition badge in the post which was nice. I also volunteer for Age UK as a befriender for older people with dementia, at a local primary school and at a community centre where I provide admin support. I was made redundant in 2015 and since then have become very involved in my community as a volunteer.
3Did you find yourself in this role by accident or design?By accident. I certainly wasn’t looking for another volunteering role, but my son was sent to A&E from school one day and whilst I was waiting with him I noticed a poster in the reception area. I took down the details and emailed the Imperial Health Charity volunteering team the next day. A year later, here I am.
4What’s the best part about your role?I really enjoy meeting new people and we get such a variety of visitors here; from school students and undergraduates, to business professionals and foreign visitors. I love chatting to all the people who come to see the museum and the team who work and volunteer here are so enthusiastic and full of energy. It’s always exciting when we get a celebrity visitor. John Craven from Countryfile came a few months ago.
5What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you in your role? I think being in this role in the first place is the strangest thing really. I have been visiting St Mary’s since 2007 with my Mother was receiving treatment at the hospital. At that time I had no idea the museum was here. Now I find myself talking to people all about the life of Fleming.
6What do you enjoy doing when you are not volunteering?I like to keep busy and when I am not volunteering I enjoy going for walks, visiting other museums and historic sites across London. I have enrolled myself on some of the free courses in my local community centre and watch lots of documentaries. I have managed to get my daughter volunteering here at St Mary’s too whilst she is on her gap year, so we enjoy going for lunch when we finish our volunteering on a Wednesday.
7What do you like about this area? I think it is one of the most diverse places in central London. There is so much culture here and such a fantastic variety of food on offer. I feel really safe walking here at any time and love the proximity to the canal. One minute you can be in the busyness of Edgware Road and the next, strolling by the water. It’s a really lively, vibrant space with something for everyone.
8What is your favourite place for lunch in the local area? Church Street Market is always a good place to go, especially on a Saturday. The Asian tandoori kebabs are delicious and cheap as well. Dar Marrakesh on Edgware Road is good - I particularly like their tagine. Delta Pizza is another family favourite. Their tandoori chicken pizza has a good amount of spice. We sometimes go there and get a takeaway.
9Who is your hero and what is it about them that inspires you? It has to be my late Father. He is my inspiration and my hero for how he dreamt of a better life for himself and his family. He came to London in the 1940’s at the age of 14 and his first job was in the British Marines, before starting his business owning properties. With the money he earnt he was able to move most of his relatives, including his siblings and extended family, to London for a better life. He worked until he was 88 years old, without thinking of retiring until the last couple of years of his life when he became unwell.
During his last few days in hospital a man noticed him from the bed beside him and asked my Father his name. He then asked my Father if he recognised him and went on to say that he had spent most of his childhood living in my Father’s house where my Father took care of him. This was my Father, always helping others. That’s something I admired about him. He always went out of his way to help others and give to those in need.
10If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be? I would really like to explore more of the UK – I have only been as far north as Lincolnshire and would love to visit Scotland and Wales. I would also like to see more of Europe, especially Belgium for the chocolate. I don’t like travelling too far and there is so much to see close to home