During the week, Mark Laurent is the managing director of Diamond Class Upholstery - but every Friday he leaves work early to spend the evening volunteering in Cranford Hospice's kitchen.

He is one of about 400 people who give up their time to volunteer for Cranford in Hawke's Bay. From helping with cleaning, in the garden or with hospice events, Cranford chief executive Janice Byford-Jones said the time given by volunteers to help the hospice was priceless.

How long have you been volunteering?

At Cranford, I've been volunteering for five-and-a-half years.


I have some training as a sous chef, so on Friday nights I cook and I help out for certain functions, or for other things.

I was also a soccer coach for 13 years, and I help with Presbyterian Support East Coast events. I was a doorman for Sparkle this year ... I just go along and say, "I'd like to help."

Why do you give your time freely?

It's only for a few hours and it's only a little bit of time on one night. People think "I can't do that, I'm going out tonight", but it's not much of your time, really.

You've got to have that disposition but it's amazing what only one person can do in a short time.

There's plenty of time to do volunteer work, you've just got to get off your butt and do it.

What's the biggest buzz you get from it?

I care for people, and there aren't enough people in this world these days who do that.

Sometimes all people want to do is talk to you, it's all about helping people.

It's very grounding and people appreciate what you do, I enjoy the interaction with people and helping out. It's poignant to know you're cooking someone's last dinner - you make them a sandwich one night and then they're not there the next day.