Khing spent over a decade working as a nurse at St Mary’s and Western Eye Hospital, and has now returned as a volunteer.
1Can you explain your role in one sentence?I volunteer at Western Eye Hospital one day each week, where I run the tea and sandwich bar. Before my shift on a Monday I buy the sandwiches and milk and then spend the day at the hospital, making and selling drinks and serving snacks to patients and their relatives.
2How long have you been doing this volunteering role?I have been volunteering at Western Eye Hospital for about a year and a half, but I have been involved in helping Imperial Health Charity to fundraise for the last three years. I still support the charity’s fundraising events on an ad hoc basis, but this is my regular commitment.
3Did you find yourself in this role by accident or by design?By accident. I used to be a nurse at St Mary’s and just before I retired my rotation meant I was based here at the Western Eye Hospital. I was very happy working here. It is a smaller hospital and there is a great team of staff. It is lovely to now be able to give back. I was already fundraising for Imperial Health Charity and the Volunteering Manager rang me up out of the blue. He explained that a regular tea bar volunteer was unwell and would I be interested in filling the space. I said yes and have not looked back.
4What’s the best part about your role? Interacting with all the patients and visitors. I really like being able to provide reassurance when people are worried, and to help answer their questions. I was a nurse at St Mary’s Hospital for nearly 10 years and I find this a really rewarding way to be able to give back.
5What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you in your role? I had been volunteering on the tea bar for a couple of months, when about an hour before closing time a gentleman approached and asked for a cup of tea with three sugars. I explained that I didn’t have much sugar. The gentleman told me not to worry. About half an hour later he reappeared, carrying three bags of sugar, a box of tea bags and jar of coffee. A couple of months later I was doing my shift and he reappeared with more donations. This action has saved the charity money and was a very kind gesture.
6What do you enjoy doing when you are not volunteering in this role?I really enjoy different cultural activities – going to concerts, the opera and visiting museums. My partner and I do a lot of travelling and I love visiting new places. When I am here in London I really enjoy spending time in the parks with my partner and my friends. We are so lucky to have so many spacious, beautiful places, accessible to us.
7What do you like about this area? Marble Arch feels really cosmopolitan. I love watching people sit outside all the Middle Eastern restaurants during the warm summer evenings, chatting away together. Hyde Park is wonderful with all the old trees. It’s such a special place to go for a walk and a picnic.
8Where’s your favourite place to go for lunch in the local area? It would have to be Seashell Fish and Chips on Lisson Grove. I have read somewhere that they are the best fish and chips. Apparently, the Queen once sent her driver out to get her some. I am not sure if that is true, but they are really tasty. They cook the fish in matzah, which is Jewish flour. The calamari is out of this world.
9Who is YOUR hero and what is it about them that inspires you?It’s got to be the Dalai Lama; because of his humility, philosophy and ability to maintain an aura of peace. I met him several years ago and found his laughter was infectious. He is a really lovely man.
10If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be? I am lucky to have been to many countries, but I would love to visit Argentina. To be able to watch people dance the tango and to pay my respects to Eva Peron, who was such a courageous, brave woman. Perhaps that will be my next big trip. I am off to Vienna at Easter, and have trips planned later in the year to Hong Kong and Jordan, so lots to look forward to.