Obituary: Hospital's meet-and-greeter dies aged 74
- Credit: SUPPLIED
A hospital volunteer from Norwich, who spent a decade helping patients, has died aged 74.
Chris Wiltshire first joined the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in 2011 as a patient experience volunteer.
It was a role that saw him visit patients on wards and survey them on their day of discharge.
He would later move to work on the reception desk meeting and greeting people.
There was never a dull moment with Mr Wiltshire as Sally Dyson, the hospital's voluntary services manager, explained.
"Chris was one of our characters and regularly had a story to make us chuckle," she said.
"He once had a patient ask him where she could find 'Phil Bottomley'. Assuming this was probably one of our consultants, Chris went out of his way to try to help this lady track down the correct person, only to discover after his efforts that the lady actually wanted phlebotomy.”
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"He told that story to all the new volunteers," said his son, James, commenting how that was exactly the sort of thing he would always do.
Christopher Wiltshire was born on November 8, 1947, in Norwich.
He was the youngest of three, and was the only son, joining his sisters Juliette, known as Jude, and the late Anita, affectionately named Nite.
As the protective eldest sibling, Jude would often use her medical background to care for her brother in one way or another over the years.
While with Nite, the “two peas in a pod” could usually be found giggling together at family parties, even as adults. And that was only when he was not behind the lens of a camera pursuing his passion for photography.
As a child, Mr Wiltshire spent a short time in boarding school in Somerset, before returning to Norwich, and he went on to do a few different jobs during his life. This included owning the tailoring business Kabius Sales Company in Aylsham during the 1970s. His family described him as being "very skilled with his hands".
Following that, he worked in the sorting office at Royal Mail before being made redundant and moving on to work in the ticket office at Thickthorn Park and Ride where he was sometimes joined by his daughter, Fay, who worked there as a summer job while she was at university.
Despite being made redundant once again, the unexpected change opened the door to an opportunity he had not considered before – volunteering for the NNUH's NHS Foundation Trust.
Ms Dyson continued: “Chris remained a valuable part of our reception team until ill health very sadly caused him to step down last year.
“Even in his last week, Chris was saying that he couldn’t wait to get back to his volunteering.
"He was a very special member of our volunteer family and we will miss him dreadfully.”
His family said it enjoyed listening to Mr Wiltshire's stories about the hospital and reflected on how he worked his way up to more responsible roles, in particular, spending most of his final years on reception.
Fay added: "The hospital was such a lifeline for him and everyone loved him for who he was. He was also a rock for others during their own hardships.
"We were so proud to hear that he was doing well and trusted with such important tasks and it has been wonderful to hear from some of his friends about how much they enjoyed working with him.
"We are so glad he got his 10-year certificate before he passed and I know how proud he was of achieving such a milestone as volunteering at the hospital meant so much more to him than just a job.
"He will be forever remembered and in our hearts for his sense of humour, kindness, and positivity even when faced with adversity, especially in the last few months.
"Our happy memories of him will bring us peace, comfort, and strength, and we hope that they do the same for his NNUH friends."
Before marrying his wife Ann five years ago, he had two children; James in 1978 and Fay in 1989.
The couple met via a dating website, originally deciding on drinks at a pub before Mr Wiltshire suggested food as he was "feeling a bit peckish".
From the beginning, Mrs Wiltshire said she "picked up on his caring and gentle nature" and enjoyed bringing him out of his shell over their early dates.
Together they enjoyed tending to their allotment in Lakenham and looking after their pet cat, Jasper, who Mr Wiltshire described as being "not a bad cat".
He loved animals, especially dogs and kept Labradors for many years. He also had "a great music sense" and enjoyed melodic guitar solos.
Mr Wiltshire died on Sunday, April 3 after "a brave fight with several illnesses" including MS and cancer.
A funeral will take place on Monday, April 25 at 2.45pm at St Faith’s Crematorium. Flowers or donations for the Big C or the Royal National Lifeboat Association may be sent c/o Allcock Family Funeral Services, 96a City Road, Norwich, or online via allcockfunerals.co.uk