A DEDICATED volunteer hospice driver has told how he has devoted 28 years of his life to ferrying patients for medical treatment as his way of saying thank you for the love shown to his wife in her final days.

Greenock Telegraph: Jim Gannon

Eighty-one-year old Jim Gannon, who has stepped away from his role after nearly three decades with Ardgowan, says he continued for such a long time in memory of his beloved spouse, Margaret.

The couple, from Wemyss Bay, both gave up their own time to help the hospice until tragedy struck and Margaret lost her life to cancer.

She was cared for at Ardgowan, where Jim saw first-hand the devotion of the staff at the hospice, a charity which relies heavily on donations from local people to keep the doors open.

Since then, former RAF serviceman Jim has spent hours taking people to hospitals all over the west of Scotland - even carrying on during Covid when others had to give up.

Greenock Telegraph: Jim Gannon

Jim, of Toward Road, said: "My wife Margaret started volunteering with the hospice a few years before I did. She used to help people with cancer in the Access Centre. She was always really good at helping people.

"She worked before that in kitchens at the power station in Inverkip and then in the school.

"She told me the hospice was desperate for volunteer drivers so I signed up and I have been there ever since.

"Margaret was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died in the hospice in 2004. I used to take her up to the Beatson for her treatment.

"I continued on as a volunteer, as a payback for the love and care of the staff at the hospice.

"They were wonderful and helped us all so much. Myself, my son and my daughter, used to go in to see her and they looked after us all. They took such care of Margaret.

"My mum was also in the hospice a few years later and they were so kind."

Following the death of his wife, Jim who had retired from his job at Hunterston in 1995, vowed to continue driving with the hospice.

Greenock Telegraph: Jim Gannon

He said: "It has helped me so much, I loved taking people all over the west coast, picking them up from different places. The hospice means such a lot to so many people.

"But I am 81 years old now and I just felt this was the right time to retire."

Originally from Glasgow, Jim joined the RAF as a 17-year-old and worked his way up through the ranks during his 15 years service, eventually fulfilling his dreams of flying in some of the finest military planes as an air camera fitter, and an expert in photography.

He left the RAF after he was injured in a serious accident in Germany. He retrained and worked at Inverkip Power Station and then Hunterston, in instrument maintenance.

Jim and Margaret moved to Wemyss Bay with their family, daughter Angela and son Gordon.

He now hopes to spend more time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren and continuing with his hobby of collecting photographs and paintings of RAF aircraft.

Ardgowan Hospice paid tribute to Jim, who previously won an award for his part in the voluntary driving team, with a special farewell.

Patient transport manager Marie Howie said:  "Jim has been a valued driver with Ardgowan Hospice Transport Service for 28 years and throughout that time has taken countless numbers of patients for their Hospital treatments. 

"He has made such a significant and invaluable impact on the weekly operation of our service, not to mention helping all those he has driven with his kind, supportive and helpful manner. 

"It has been a real pleasure to have worked with Jim and received this wonderful voluntary work contribution from him, which has meant so much to us and many others. We wish him all the very best."