You are currently viewing Papers for patients: Thames’ perpetual volunteer
Clyde Beaufill, known to most as Beau, is a familiar sight at Thames Hospital as he delivers papers including The Profile to patients. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

Papers for patients: Thames’ perpetual volunteer

Everyone at Thames Hospital knows Clyde Beaufill, although they may not know his name. 

To most people in Thames the 85 year old is known as Beau. And he’s a regular fixture at the hospital. 

Clyde has been volunteering at or around the hospital for 20 years. His volunteer work began quite organically – when he retired as the hospital’s groundskeeper in 2003, he simply never left. 

“When I retired they asked me, would I like to drive the mobility vehicle?” Clyde said. 

“So I started on the 7th of August 2003 – I was there for 14 years.”

Clyde’s time with the mobility van was enjoyable, he said, taking people to and from medical appointments and social events. 

“[The] stroke club was my main thing … I looked after them until they dissolved a few years ago,” he said. 

“I just enjoyed all the things I did, and how thankful people were when I’d take them home or take them in the mobility van.”

In 2008, Clyde also signed up to become a volunteer host at the hospital, greeting visitors and patients and answering questions. He took on a further role as the hospital ‘paperboy’ in 2013. 

“I started doing a paper run around the hospital for the patients, waiting rooms,” Clyde said. 

“When I started I used to come down to Carson’s Bookshop and get some Heralds and Waikato Times and take them back, and they had to buy them.” 

Clyde had to take a step back from volunteering in 2017, when he was admitted to Waikato Hospital. At the same time, Thames Mobility Incorporated was struggling to find people to run the van service, and the decision was made to hand the vehicle over to St Johns. 

“I had a kidney out. And I was out [of the hospital] about a week before we had the handing over ceremony to St Johns,” Clyde said. 

The van is now run by St John’s, and is still available for community use. 

Clyde bounced back from his illness, and quickly took up his place again as a hospital host. The programme was canned when the pandemic hit; however, Clyde continued doing his daily paper run. 

“There was no more hosting [but] I just carried on with the papers,” he said. 

“The hospital vaccinated me, and I still do the papers every day. I’ve been doing them for 10 years.” 

Now, Clyde delivers all the local papers to the hospital every day, as well as his bundle of paid daily papers. 

“I just go over [to the bookshop] at 8 o’clock every morning and the papers are there, and I take them round,” he said. 

“I take one up to theatre, one to the doctor’s lounge and I take the rest all round the patients.” 

Clyde reckons he will be a familiar face around the hospital for some time yet. 

“The staff all know me, I’ve just done it all these years,” he said. 

“[And] I’m going to keep doing them now, while I’m able. Probably till Christmas anyway. I bought a (former) hospital house right beside the hospital. So I haven’t got far to go.” 

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air