Hospice volunteers receive Sovereign’s Medals

Oak Bay's Graham Robertson was honoured for “significant, sustained and unpaid contributions to their community.”

Three Victoria Hospice volunteers were recognized earlier this month with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, presented by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon.

Victoria Hospice Society Board vice-president Deedrie Ballard, former Victoria Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation Board president Peter Malcolm and Graham Robertson, founder of the Cycle of Life Tour fundraiser for Island hospice care, received the medal recognizing exceptional volunteers from across Canada for “significant, sustained and unpaid contributions to their community.”

Oak Bay’s Robertson and his partner, Beth, founded the two-day, nearly 200km group cycling event in 2011.

Since its inception, the Cycle of Life Tour has raised more than $365,000 for hospice care on Vancouver Island

“I got hooked on fundraising when I shaved my head for pledges in support of a colleague who passed away from cancer in 2010,” says Robertson, a Registered Massage Therapist at Acacia Health and father of two. “It was incredible how readily people offered their time and energy. At that point, I knew I wanted to do more and I knew how I was going to do it – as a cycling fanatic, I always want to ride my bike.”

Robertson just needed a cause.

With no direct link to hospice care, he turned to close friends and family for their advice on where he should give back.

“I wanted to support a local charity where I could see the impact of the charity’s work in peoples’ lives,” says Robertson.

After hearing heartfelt stories from friends and family about the impact of hospice palliative care, Robertson knew he had found his motivation.

“For such a vital role that Victoria Hospice plays in the community, I was shocked by how little the community knew about its services. This drove me into action and those around me immediately stepped up to help, including Acacia Health, who continues to sponsor the event today.”

In 2016, Victoria Hospice adopted the Cycle of Life Tour to free up more time for Graham and his growing young family.

Along with a crew of dedicated volunteers, sponsors and suppliers, Robertson and family are still very much involved – last year he rode the tour on a tandem bike for the first time.

“The riders, sponsors, and all the volunteers keep inspiring me to make a difference,” says Robertson.

Victoria Hospice congratulates Robertson and others for receiving the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers and thanks them for their leadership, compassion and dedication.

This year, 80 cyclists will ride in the fifth annual Cycle of Life Tour July 22 and 23.

Registration opens Feb. 1 and is expected to sell out. Visit www.cycleoflifetour.ca for more information.

Donations fund almost half of Victoria Hospice’s annual operating costs and allow the organization to provide care, support, and pain and symptom management for patients nearing end-of-life, whether at home, in the community or at Victoria Hospice’s in-patient unit at the Royal Jubilee Hospital.

Additional services include care for patients’ families and loved ones through bereavement support and grief counselling programs, education, training and research.

Learn more at www.victoriahospice.org.