Betty Smith was there from the early days. Originally from Gisborne, Betty moved with her family to Rotorua in 1958. She volunteered with Rotorua Hospice for 17 years from 1984 until 2001, when health issues forces a reluctant retirement.
While small in stature, Betty was a force to be reckoned with when facing a challenge, believing that perseverance, patience and sheer hard work were the best ways to approach life. A keen baker, Betty understood the importance of taking the time to connect with people over a cup of tea and a home baked treat.
Following her retirement, Betty was awarded a certificate of appreciation by Mayor Grahame Hall for her years of community service. Never one to seek public recognition, Betty insisted she did not want an official ceremony, requesting her certificate be posted out instead.
Betty’s daughter April Mortimer says her dedication to Hospice may have stemmed from the death of a friend, cared for in her own home by her daughter, a registered nurse. “Mum felt strongly people should have the option to die with dignity in their own homes, expressing many times her desire to leave her home “feet first””.
In her final weeks of life, Betty was cared for by the Hospice team alongside her family.
“While Mum’s commitment and belief in the Hospice cause was never in doubt, working with the Hospice team has brought a multi-faceted understanding and heightened respect, not only for the team and the ethos behind the organisation, but also our Mother. Caring for Mum in those final weeks with the support of Rotorua Hospice was an absolute privilege. The care and compassion of the team has been superlative. No request was too much trouble, much comfort being taken by their empathy and understanding, with guidance only a phone call away. We will forever hold the experience of Mum’s passing close to our hearts. Mum’s final wish was met, that she would pass peacefully at home. Our heartfelt thanks to the Rotorua Hospice team for assisting in making this possible”.
The closing line of Betty’s farewell speech to Hospice on retiring from volunteering sums up her life’s motto perfectly.
“Human beings who leave behind them no great achievements, but only a sequence of small kindnesses have not had wasted lives”.
Rest in Peace Betty Smith 8 June 2020