An octogenarian loves his Children’s Hospice South West (CHSW) volunteering role so much – he even does it on holiday!

Dave Senior, 81, who grew up in Launceston and regularly visits family in St Austell, is a key member of the volunteering team at Children’s Hospice South West’s Charlton Farm in Wraxall, Bristol, and carries out a range of important jobs alongside the maintenance team.

Not only does Dave, a grandfather of three, work at Charlton Farm once a week, he also rolls up his sleeves and works at its sister site, Little Harbour Hospice in Porthpean, St Austell when he is on his holidays visiting family in Cornwall each year.

Dave, from Yate in Bristol, first heard about the work of CHSW while helping at a Scouts and Cubs gang show at the Bristol Hippodrome.

Dave Senior grew up in Launceston and regularly visits family in St Austell
Dave Senior grew up in Launceston and regularly visits family in St Austell (CHSW)

The collection in the interval was for CHSW. Dave was inspired to help after hearing CHSW co-founder, the late Jill Farwell, talk to the audience about the work of the charity.

While working as a parts delivery driver, railway enthusiast Dave also discovered Charlton Farm, which opened in 2007, was on his route – so he popped in to offer his services as a volunteer. And on the day he officially retired in March 2008, he started at Charlton Farm.

One of Dave’s first jobs was working as a car park attendant at an event at the hospice.

“The weather was terrible,” he said. “It was tipping down and I was soaked to the skin. Even my socks were dripping, so when I got into the office building peeled them off and hung them on the radiator to dry.”

Now Dave undertakes a myriad of jobs each week – from sweeping up leaves to mending fences and checking all the vehicles used at the hospice each week to ensure they are roadworthy.

“Every day is different,” said Dave. “The worst job is clearing the site of snow and the best job is doing the water checks - the reason being I meet a lot of the staff and going to the hospice is where I get my ’fix’. And that’s what makes it so rewarding.”

Dave grew up in Launceston before moving to Bristol aged 18.

Dave Senior carries out a range of important jobs alongside the maintenance team for CHSW
Dave Senior carries out a range of important jobs alongside the maintenance team for CHSW (CHSW)

He spent many happy days on holiday in St Austell as a child, regularly visiting Porthpean beach.

“We used to visit family twice a year and I remember being on that beautiful beach with my grandad with him wearing a suit, hat and tie. That’s what you did in those days.”

Dave was keen to continue his volunteering duties while on holiday and during his five day stays with his Cornish family helps out at Little Harbour for 3 and a half days.

“I do many similar jobs to what I do at Charlton Farm,” said Dave. “But often my first job when I arrive at Little Harbour is to valet the vehicles.

“I like to keep busy and I love my work at the hospice. To be able to do it in a place just minutes away from where I enjoyed so many holidays as a child is just marvellous. I get to see my family, have a little holiday while continuing with my volunteering role.”

Dave’s family also support CHSW with his grandson completing a 5k run.

Dave says one way he measures whether he’s done a good job is by the size of the cake he is offered.

“If I get a big slice of cake I have obviously worked hard and earned it,” he laughed. “I like to think I am paid in good cake and the love and reward I get from volunteering for such an incredible charity.”

Charlton Farm site manager site manager Lawrence Gingell added: “Dave’s enthusiasm is infectious and he’s an important part of our team.

“It’s been a pleasure working with Dave and his contribution helps with tasks around the site which without volunteers like Dave would be much harder to do.”

CHSW was registered with the charity commission in 1991 and has been caring for children and young people with life-threatening conditions for more that 30 years, providing children's hospice and professional family support services.

They provides care and support to families living in the South West, who have children with life-limiting conditions including specialist palliative and hospice care for the whole family, a sibling support service, emergency support, end of life care and a bereavement service.

There are now three hospices in the South West: Little Bridge House in Barnstaple (opened 1995), Charlton Farm in Bristol (2007) and Little Harbour in St Austell (2011). CHSW delivers a range of services including short breaks, specialist play, music therapy, activities for siblings, palliative and emergency care, end of life care, bereavement support and specialist medical care.

To find out more about fundraising for CHSW visit