Denis Parkes


When people think of the NHS the first thing that springs to mind is doctors, nurses and surgeons, what people may not have considered is the body of volunteers who greet people with a smile and help them with their queries. Harry Denis Parkes has been doing this for over 20 years.

Harry, known as Denis by his friends, has been giving up his spare time to help people at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust for 23 years and at the age of 88 has no intention of stopping soon.

Denis, from Handsworth Wood, said: “I first started volunteering at the hospital after my wife was in for two months, after that I just kept coming.”

When asked why he kept coming to volunteer, Denis replied: “Habit. I was a market trader and now I sell the hospital to people.

“It is occupational therapy for me. It gives me a sense of purpose and a reason to get up on a morning to come in and help.”

Denis can normally be found at the blood tests desk in the Birmingham Treatment Centre or helping out in the League of Friends shop in the Sheldon Block at City Hospital, but has also volunteered all over the hospital including the main entrance.

It is not just his time that Denis is generous with. For his 80th birthday, instead of asking for gifts, he requested that money be donated in order to raise money to buy a wheelchair that would be placed at the front desk for patients who needed it.

Denis said: “It was nice to be able to give something back and what better way than to provide a piece of equipment that will benefit patients”

He has seen a lot of change during his time volunteering in the Trust.

Outside of volunteering, Denis enjoys spending time with his grand daughters and their horses. A former rider himself, he enjoys going to see them in dressage while also longing in the horse box with a Sunday paper.

He added: “Some of this volunteering has rubbed off my granddaughter is now a Guides leader.”

When asked if he would ever consider stopping his volunteering, his answer was simple: “No.”