Joanne Cawley and Sons to switch on our lights at Light up a Life 2018 #lightupalife #wirralhospice #wirral #hospicecare #wellbeing

Joanne Cawley and FamilyWirral Hospice St John’s will be lighting up the hospice gardens with 10,000 beautiful lights this December. Light up a Life has been raising much needed funds for the hospice ever since the first service in 1996.  The switch-on is a really special event which brings together our whole Wirral community to remember those special to them.

This year the lights will be switched on by Joanne Cawley in memory of her mum, Ruth Size, accompanied by her sons, James 13, and Luke 9. Ruth had been first diagnosed with mouth cancer in 1972 and received treatments and therapies that helped her live a full family life until, in January 2009, she was given the completely distressing news that her cancer had returned.  Following an operation to replace Ruth’s jawbone she found difficulty with eating, drinking and talking but she gained a further 8 years, cancer free. In February 2016, the cancer re-appeared and Ruth started receiving palliative care.

Ruth was referred to Wirral Hospice St John’s and attended the Day Therapy Unit, now known as the Wellbeing Centre.  She was apprehensive at first, finding it difficult to communicate with others due to her speech problems.  Her daughter Joanne accompanied her to the first few sessions. They were soon made to feel at ease, being welcomed by our compassionate team of staff and volunteers.

In May 2017 Ruth was admitted onto our In-patient ward and stayed with us for a month.  She received our specialist care which gave Ruth’s husband, Martin (Joanne’s Dad), some peace of mind and much needed respite. Ruth’s wish to die at home was very much respected. A full care package was put in place to support Ruth, complete with equipment for her to use at home.  Following further support from our Hospice at Home team, alongside both community and Macmillan nurses, Ruth died peacefully at home in July 2017, aged 71.

Martin and daughter, Joanne, both received bereavement counselling from Wirral Hospice St John’s. Martin was a member of a bereavement group which helped him talk to others spouses who had lost their partners. Six months after Ruth died, Martin was diagnosed with prostate cancer. In August 2018 Martin died suddenly from a stroke.

Joanne Cawley and Family 2Martin was very proud and thrilled that Joanne and her two sons, James and Luke, were asked to switch on the lights at the Light up a Life service. Joanne said “It is such an honour and privilege to be asked to switch on the lights, as each light has its own special story. This is only our second year at Light up a Life, but will now be our family tradition every year.  We will always remember my mum and my dad and will light up their lives with a light for each of them.  Although they are not here with us they will never be forgotten and are always close in our hearts ”

The service will be held in the hospice gardens on Sunday 2nd December at 5.30pm.  The carol service is free to attend and all are welcome to come along to remember their loved ones.  For each light that is sponsored your loved one’s name will be included in the books of honour and you will receive a Light up a Life card in their memory.  The books will be on display in the hospice from 4pm on 2nd December and will remain on display throughout the Christmas period.

Web squareFor a suggested minimum donation of £5 per light you can sponsor a Light in memory of a loved one. Light up a Life keepsake tree decorations are available for a donation from £3.00 (including postage).  To donate to the campaign please call 0151 343 0778 or visit www.wirralhospice.org to make a donation online.

We also invite Businesses to sponsor a light from £50.00. All businesses will be included in the event programme and in the books of honour.

Julia Evans, Fundraising Manager said “I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported Light up a Life over the past 22 years.  Our lights can be sponsored in memory of your loved one whether you have a connection to the Hospice or not. Each light represents someone special who is loved and remembered.”

 

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Spotlight On: Liz Munro a fundraising volunteer, ‘par excellence’ #hospicehero #wirralhospice #caring #fundraising #fun # volunteer #thankyou

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Wirral Hospice St John’s fundraising office is a hive of activity. There are constant phone-calls and a steady flow of people popping in to make donations, to join various events, sign up for the hospice lottery and drop off prizes (including contributions to our famous in-patients ward’s drinks trolley!) Very often, people from other teams and/or hospice trustees and ambassadors meet in fundraising to share ideas and news from around the place.

Our fundraisers are busy bees. They’re dedicated, driven and conscientious, but, they’ll all tell you, they wouldn’t be anywhere near as efficient without the help of a supportive and highly motivated group of volunteers, each bringing their unique personality, skill and experience to the team.

Today we focus on ‘one of the quiet ones’ (or so you would think) the invaluable and gently effective, Liz Munro.

Liz doesn’t make any fuss in the office. She’s there every Tuesday from 10am to 4pm, handling calls politely while, often simultaneously, packing envelopes, collating information, accepting card payments and sorting through all kinds of fundraising paraphernalia.

When she finds a minute she’ll also get all the teas and coffees in! This unassuming lady is an absolute diamond, the kind of person who, if you had a need she’d help you as much as she could.

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When I ask her to tell us how she got involved with the hospice and some of her ‘real life’, she’s typically humble: “I’ll tell you everything about me in about 5 minutes and you’ll have nothing to use.” I think she genuinely means it, but there’s plenty worth sharing.

Born and raised in Wirral, Liz attended Upton Hall FCJ before leaving for Durham University where she graduated in PE. Her first job was teaching PE at Helsby Grammar School before moving to Crewe Grammar where she spent a further 11 years. Liz is definitely a sports enthusiast – more about that later!

Her career continued in learning with the education advisory service and, based in nearby Ellesmere Port, Liz became an ‘Education Visitor’. This made learning accessible to people of all ages who might not have necessarily thrived in mainstream education. Liz’s commitment to community and public service has been a mainstay of her life.

Liz finally retired in 2004 when the primary school she was working at, Stanlaw Abbey, merged with another to become Oaks Primary School.

By that time she had already been volunteering at Wirral Hospice St John’s for 3 years. You see, her husband and the love of her life, Keith, had passed away at the hospice in 2001.

Liz tells me a little bit more about Keith. He was from Tain in Scotland (where they make the famous Glenmorangie Whisky). In the RAF he developed a love of languages and went on to study German and Russian at Edinburgh University. He was lecturing in Russian at the old Liverpool Polytechnic (now Liverpool John Moores University) when they met.

Liz positively beams when talking about her children and grandchildren. Keith and Liz were married in 1978 and Keith brought two children, Andrew and Jamie, to the relationship. Liz describes them, now in their 50’s, as just delightful! They have given Liz four of her, soon to be six, grandchildren. Soon to be?  Yes, Liz and Keith also have another daughter, Annie, who is mum of grandaughter, Ella, and now grandchild number six is due in March. Wonderful!

When speaking about Keith’s time in the hospice, he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000, Liz remembers, “He was made to feel so comfortable. The staff and volunteers showed great courtesy, patience and were so attentive to his needs. Their kindness was priceless.”

She recalls a nice story when Keith wanted some peaches for his dessert, “Del Monté, mind” he requested. Naturally, the Man from Del Monté said, YES!

Keith died here in July 2001 at the age of 64.

Later that year, Liz began to volunteer for the hospice. Her first campaign contribution was for Light Up a Life in 2001. Liz would take home the hundreds of remembrance Christmas cards to be sorted and packed for posting to all the people who had made their invaluable donations.

In the next year Liz, with family, friends and neighbours hosted a ‘Titanic’ themed event to raise funds for the hospice. Guests were asked to dress for ‘steerage’ or ‘first class’. A gangplank was built up to the front of the house, adorned with lifebelts, a sailboat positioned next to an iceberg (a sheet draped over Annie’s old swing) in the garden.  A string quartet, featuring Annie, played until fireworks signified the ship going down at midnight. “People still talk about the day, it was Keith’s wish to hold it and we managed to raise a nice sum for the hospice.”

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Sporty Liz missed her games of tennis with Keith and, late in 2002, a friend encouraged her to have a go at golf. After just a few lessons she was hooked, “like some of my shots”, Liz laughs. Soon afterwards she joined, what was then, Wirral Ladies Golf Club in Oxton.

It wouldn’t be long before Liz became embroiled in life at the golf club. So much so that, by 2011, she was named the club’s Captain . What an honour! However, Liz broke many conventions in 2012 by being chosen for a further year. Historically, Liz was the very last ‘female only’ Captain of the golf club as, to comply with equality law, the club has had both a female and male captain since 2012.

Liz chose Wirral Hospice St John’s as her club’s charity of the year in both years as captain. The members insisting that she would have no problem gaining their support, “Wirral Hospice touches everyone here”, they told her. Again, very welcome funds were raised towards helping the hospice maintain our specialist palliative care and support services.

In 2018, Liz and her golf buddy, Janet Mills, made a personal donation to have the hospice featured on a sign on the 6th hole of their newly renamed Wirral Golf Club. 

Thank You, again and again and again. Liz, you are a Wirral Hospice St John’s volunteer, ‘par excellence.’liz 2

Author: Billy Howard

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