Volunteers from Watford and St Albans hospitals took a break from their volunteering services this week to attend a special ‘thank you’ lunch.

The event recognised the continued commitment of the 550 volunteers who provide more than 3,000 hours of their own time every week.

The volunteers do a huge variety of jobs, including driving patients to and from their hospital appointments and helping out on wards, in outpatient clinics, at reception desks and information centres, for instance the Macmillan Cancer Support centre at Watford General Hospital.

As part of the ‘thank you’, Trust Chief Executive Samantha Jones and Chair Mahdi Hasan presented seven volunteers with awards for long service, including one who has volunteered for an amazing 25 years.

Ms Jones said: "Volunteers play an invaluable role in our hospitals and we are extremely grateful for the enormous contribution that they make to the experience of our patients.

"This annual event is our opportunity for us to say thank you to all of our volunteers for their hard work and selfless commitment over the past year.

"During 2013, our wonderful volunteers, who range from 18 to over 80 years of age, have donated a staggering 140,000 hours of time and for that, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude."

Frances Jaggard and Colin Knight are volunteers who collectively have done 41 years of volunteering service. They said: "We have always found it fulfilling working with patients and we especially enjoy getting involved on the wards.

"We hope that our roles have improved the experience patients have in hospital and our actions, however big or small, have helped them on their road to recovery."