Alex Cooper, 33, is Prospect Hospice’s Community Boxes Fundraiser. The hospice is currently promoting the scheme, in which collection boxes are placed in businesses and homes by volunteers. Alex is married to Bruce, a design technician. The couple live in West Swindon and have a three-year-old daughter, Layla-Mae.

ALEX Cooper is in charge of 178 volunteers who between them raise more than £100,000 a year for Prospect Hospice.

The hospice relies almost entirely on public donations.

“I’m responsible for making sure we’ve got good geographical coverage of boxes, both business and household,” said Alex.

“Part of my role is to see where we have boxes, where we need to promote boxes and to ensure there are collectors there.

“Box collectors collect twice a year, in the spring and autumn. They collect the money, count it and bring it in, and I make sure everything they need to be able to do that is available.

“It’s a big job but the collectors are all so willing and it’s fabulous.

“They come from all walks of life. We’ve got a couple of box collectors in their 90s and quite a few in their 80s; we’ve got a lady who inquired about it and would like to fit it around her full-time job whilst being a single parent. Literally anybody can do it.”

Alex is originally from Reading. Her mother is a retired nurse and her father a retired firefighter. The family moved to Swindon for career reasons when Alex was a toddler.

She studied health and social care and later performing arts at Swindon College, and worked in retail for a couple of years before moving into occupational therapy at the old Princess Margaret Hospital.

Alex later worked as an auxiliary nurse, at a GP surgery and with a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) in cancer services at Great Western Hospital.

“In my MDT role I worked quite closely with the palliative care team. I didn’t really know much about Prospect until I worked with the team.

“I loved them to pieces and got on with them really well. The things they came out with at meetings, I thought, was amazing – their care, their patience.

“From there I went home, looked up Prospect and every so often checked to see whether there were any jobs because I just wanted to work there.

“I always came back to the healthcare, and although I made the move from the hospital to Prospect, I’ve stayed with healthcare.

“I think it’s just kind of embedded in me. I just can’t imagine not being in a healthcare environment.”

Job satisfaction is immense and constant.

“I worked out that the hundred thousand pounds a year is enough to send 20 people per day into our day therapy service for 123 days.

“I absolutely love it. Every time a collection comes in and our coin counters put it through and I get to see how much has been raised, when it goes up by hundreds or thousands, it’s just incredible.

“When you pick up a box, even if it’s half full or a quarter full, it might come out at £20 or something like that, which makes such a big difference.”

New volunteers are always welcomed, and are put through a simple application process during which the role is explained. They are asked to provide references from people who can vouch for their honesty.

“Once that’s all done, they can either take on a new round or an existing one. Often we get people who retire from it or have to give it up because of moving or other circumstances, so the new box collectors have the opportunity.”

Alex grasps every opportunity to promote the work of the hospice, which helps not just patients with serious illnesses but also their loved ones.

“It allows people to have their end of life the way they would want it.

“Since I’ve been there, there have been two weddings, and I know in the past that they managed to bring a patient’s horse to Prospect, so they could have some time with their animal.

“I bumped into a patient’s wife. The patient was terminal and unfortunately coming to the end. She was in a bit of a state, but I managed to make her laugh just through not being able to open a coffee thing. We were having a real giggle and she said: ‘That was just what I needed’.”

The woman had also had a manicure and pedicure at the hospice. Swindon’s OMG salon volunteers to provide services.

“There are no visiting hours at Prospect, and if you’re sat with your loved one for a long time, it’s nice to go and have some time for you, be pampered.

“Prospect is just so much more than what people think. It’s just there for everybody.”

On numerous occasions, the reputation of the hospice has meant that even businesses which do not usually display charity boxes make an exception.

“They always end up telling me how they’ve been touched by Prospect somehow.

“A particular restaurant said they didn’t usually take charity boxes but they were going to because we made their mum’s last six weeks bearable.

“Going there and hearing people say they’ll only have a box because it’s Prospect – that means a lot, that people are taking the box because of Prospect’s reputation and because they really want to support it.

“Many of us are touched by Prospect at some time in our lives.

“If I had a relative in that situation, I know where I’d want them to be.”

The hospice can be contacted on 01793 813355 and at