Super Mario honoured after 40 years of hospital volunteering

Last updated: Thursday, 06 July 2023

Children's models

Mario Rebellato receives his long-service volunteering award

A south London grandad and ultra marathon runner has been honoured for giving his time in volunteering across four decades at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

Mario Rebellato, 81, started his volunteering service at the Trust in 1983 5 years after his 2 young children were inpatients at St Thomas’ Hospital for several weeks. He was so impressed with their care, he pledged to “give back” to the hospital.

Since then, he has volunteered at Guy’s and St Thomas’ at least once a week for 40 years. After initially working on a geriatric ward, Mario moved to a children’s wards, then transferred to Evelina London Children’s Hospital when it opened in 2005 and where he still volunteers.

Mario, a dad of 2 and grandfather of 3 who works full-time as a personal assistant for a property maintenance company, said: “I’ve never looked back. 40 years on, I still love it. It’s a very rewarding job and is a good way of putting back something into society. Volunteering gives me a great deal of pleasure.”

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Mario running the 2016 Marathon des Sables

Mario cycles to the hospital every weekend from his home in Kennington, south London. His duties include keeping the staff and parents’ kitchens in order. In the earlier years of his volunteering, he worked with children on the wards.

He said: “In the early days, it was all hands on deck. There were about 24 children and 6 nurses. Parents didn’t stay overnight so I helped out feeding kids, bathing them, putting them to bed. I got a reputation as the go-to person if a child was crying and wouldn’t go to sleep. They’d give them to me, I’d pick them up, comfort them and they’d soon go to sleep.

“I’ve had lots of great experiences over the years. There were children who were chronically ill and who would come in repeatedly. You would get to know them. Sometimes they wouldn’t be able to speak but you could tell in their eyes they recognised you, and that was wonderful.”

Sue Cox, Associate Chief Nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’, presented Mario with his award during a ceremony at Guy’s Hospital.

She said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Mario for his unstinting support for so many of our patients over 40 years. Volunteers like Mario make an important contribution, providing a caring and welcoming service to our patients, visitors and staff. Thank you Mario for all you have done.”

Mario, who has run 6 gruelling marathon des sables in the Moroccan desert and has applied to do his seventh, has also fundraised for Evelina London over the years, and said he was looking forward to continuing to look after patients and staff for years to come.

He added: “The thank you ceremony was lovely, but I’ve had a wonderful time over the years with the patients and staff. It has been so rewarding and given me many happy memories.”

You can find out more about volunteering on our website.

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