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Jan Nottingham - Westfield Local Heroes 2020

Doing it for love

Ronald McDonald House South Island
Empathetic. Encouraging. Strong.

Landing a job as night supervisor at Ronald McDonald House South Island in 2012 was a silver lining for Jan Nottingham after the Christchurch earthquake in 2011 destroyed her home.

She has been giving back ever since; as a caring listener, a shoulder to cry on and a guaranteed hug for any of the 8,500 families who have passed through the doors.

Families from all over New Zealand stay at the house while their child is in hospital. Some are there for six months or more and many visit regularly over the years.

Jan is the reason many families call it a home away from home.

"While they are here, these families become our family. It's my job to make sure they feel as welcome and comfortable as possible," Jan says.

She cherishes her interactions with the families.

"You see people come in here so wrung out. Mum might have had a rough day at the hospital and she'll be in tears. You'd love to say that it's going to be alright, but you can't. The best thing you can do is give a cuddle and provide a little comfort.

"I'm doing work I love, which means to me it's not work at all," says Jan.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Ronald McDonald House South Island will use its grant to repaint and refurnish its education room.

For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here

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