Meet the former Head Teacher blossoming as part of our team
Until recently, Dave Cantin was a teacher in a large Plymouth primary school, where he focussed on creating the right conditions for students to achieve their potential. His 33-year teaching career also includes Deputy Headships and Headships of two Cornish primary schools. Now, he’s two months into his new role working more outside than indoors, and in a completely different sector where our team all go the extra mile to help ensure people at the end of their life get the most out of each day.
So, what was it that motivated Dave to resign from his teaching job and make the leap to become one of our Maintenance Assistants, caring for our beautiful gardens at Turnchapel and contributing to the smooth-running of all St Luke’s facilities, from our specialist unit to our charity shops?
Dave, who is 55 and lives on the Plymouth side of the Saltash Passage, explains: “While I enjoyed my career in teaching and school management, after 33 years I knew it was time for a change otherwise I might always be left thinking, ”What if?”. I’ve always loved being outdoors and have a real passion for gardening, so when my wife saw the job with St Luke’s advertised she just knew she had to show it to me. I’d reached a time in my life where I was able to re-evaluate and choose a new direction if I so wished.
“I wasn’t put off by the idea of working for a hospice. It’s not depressing or distressing – in fact, the opposite is true. I already knew this because when my mum received hospice care in another part of the country, I witnessed not only great warmth and sensitivity in the way she was looked after but the uplifting atmosphere and camaraderie between the people working there. The same is absolutely true of St Luke’s – you only have to read all the heart-warming stories local families share about the precious memories the team helped them and their loved one create.
“It’s natural to feel a bit apprehensive when starting any new job, never mind one so far removed from what you’re used to, but I can honestly say I’ve felt at ease from day one. Everyone is so friendly, and there’s no ‘them and us’ feeling between the staff and volunteers – it’s one team made up of people with different skills, strengths and experience, where each person is valued for who they are and what they bring.
“At the moment, I’m mostly working in the gardens, which I feel is a privilege because they aren’t just ‘any’ gardens, they’re a haven for Turnchapel patients and a special place bereaved families often return to because they find such comfort there. With the remodelling of the workspaces that’s under way inside the building, I’m also looking forward to getting stuck into some of the decorating that will need doing there.”
“I hope my story shows that it’s never too late to change direction and embrace a new challenge, especially if – like me – there’s a job you have always wanted to try. Being a Maintenance Assistant at St Luke’s has highlighted to me that it takes a multi-skilled team to provide such great hospice care, with dedicated people behind the scenes as well colleagues working directly with our patients.”
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