Sam will turn on 10,000 #LightupaLife lights in memory of his dad

DSC_0024-2This December ten thousand beautiful lights will be switched on in memory of loved ones at Wirral Hospice St John’s.  This special event is an opportunity for our local community to come together to sponsor a light and remember their loved ones.

This year the lights will be switched on by eight-year-old Sam Bryson whose dad died at Wirral Hospice St John’s in 2015.  Sam was six and his sister Florence was just two when their dad Roger died from bowel cancer aged 48.

The children spent a lot of time visiting their dad at the hospice and were always made to feel welcome and cared for; their father was an in-patient for almost three months.  Periods of stability meant he was able to live at the family home in Hoylake for a few weeks at a time.  Roger was a news journalist who worked for the BBC in Liverpool, and was a former news editor of The Liverpool Daily Post.

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Roger & Julia Bryson and their children Sam & Florence

Roger was hospitalised in May 2013 with essential thrombocythemia – a blood disorder that caused a series of blood clots, resulting in complications and emergency bowel surgery.  He returned to work nearly 18 months later, but developed further problems and was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in April 2015. He moved to Wirral Hospice St John’s days later.

Julia Bryson writes a blog called Rainbeaubelle and documents their journey online. Writing about her husband’s cancer diagnosis, his move to the hospice and eventually his death helped her to get through the experience and connect with others in a similar position. It has also served to give people an insight into life at a hospice and how the hospice can benefit not only the patient but also the whole family.

A news journalist like her husband, Julia works at the BBC in Leeds and in her spare time writes about how the family has moved forward through grief.

The family have since moved from Wirral to Julia’s hometown in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, but visit Hoylake often.  Roger’s family – his mum was 91 this year and lives in Moreton with his sister Jehane, and his brother Pete and sister-in-law Glenys live in Irby.

Sam said: “I feel really proud to have been asked to switch on the lights and can’t wait to see them shining in the trees.  Last year we won the raffle and took home a huge teddy bear called Frosty, it was really fun!”

Lual Star xmassy on dark backgroundThe switch-on will take place in the Hospice gardens on Sunday 3rd December from 4.30pm.  The names of those remembered will feature in the books of honour on display in the hospice chapel.  Each name sponsored will receive a Light up a Life card and there is an opportunity to buy a Light up a Life star as a keepsake tree decoration.

Last year’s campaign helped to raise almost £90,000 towards running costs and patient care. To sponsor a light call 0151 343 0778 or visit www.wirralhospice.org

Author: Julia Evans

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One of our #volunteers, John, tells us why the hospice is so special ! #hospiceheroes #hospicecareweek #hospicecare #wearehospicecare

20170707_094955.jpgJohn Sutcliffe is a volunteer at Wirral Hospice where I support Day Therapy patients and work as a gardener. I was married for nearly 50 years and we have three children; two sons and one daughter, and six grandchildren. All live locally – I’m chief babysitter!

I was brought up in Wallasey and worked away at sea but when I returned I met Maria, a nurse from Upton who worked at Clatterbridge. We were married in 1969. Maria worked as a nurse for 40 years and I worked for Levers and Group 4 security. Maria and I had a common interest in travel and shared many happy holidays together. My main interests now are gardening and supporting Liverpool football Club.

How long has Wirral Hospice been a part of your life?
Approximately 15 years ago Maria was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma which was when I first became involved in the hospice. Whilst Maria was coming to the hospice, I was involved in the Carers group and the Patients and Carers feedback group. Since losing Maria in 2015 I have continued to support the feedback group and have attended the Bereavement Support group and now, volunteering as a gardener and supporter of patients in the Day Therapy Unit.

During Maria’s time as a patient she was fortunate to experience all the services provided – initially as an outpatient, then attending the weekly Day Therapy sessions, then support back at home via the Hospice at Home service and also as an Inpatient. Throughout this time we saw the hospice grow and change through a number of building developments which created “The Hub” café, the new Outpatients department and the multi-disciplinary / patient and family support team areas. During the building works the services we attended were relocated but this did not compromise the amazing all round care we received from the wonderful doctors, clinical team and volunteers.

Being a member of the Patient Involvement group has been a great way for me to give back to the hospice: I was consulted on processes, leaflets and services and I also carried out a Healthcare inspection with external governing bodies which was a chance to share our positive experience of hospice care.

My volunteer role with Day Therapy patients is great as I am gardening with them – this is proving to be a wonderful alternative therapy, and even better we are now producing potatoes, tomatoes, onions and more that we can then pass to the kitchen to use which is really satisfying!

What are your Hospice Highlights?
The main highlight for me has to be the hospice staff – nothing is too much effort. Throughout all the services we experienced, the staff would go above and beyond to support not just Maria but myself and all the family.

When Maria attended her weekly Day Therapy session, I was invited to stay and attend a Carers group which was specifically for patients’ partners and/or their careers. The team who ran this provided wonderful opportunity for support where, over coffee and cake you could ask questions, talk through day to day issues and share experiences of life as a career with others going through the same thing, which helped to prepare you for the journey ahead.

The bereavement support was also a highlight for me – After some initial one to one counselling I joined a bereavement support group where we met every two weeks for about two years. These people became friends for life as we still meet up now and have even been away on holiday together!

Now a big highlight for me is to work with patients in Day Therapy who I know will benefit from their time here because they are going to be made to feel well. I will never forget what one of the consultants said to me when Maria was a Day Therapy patient “You don’t come here to die, you come here for us to control your medication, control your pain and get you home”.

What does hospice care mean to you?
For me the hospice care means the personal touch, where the staff have time to listen not just to the patient, but to the partners, the children and the extended family who are just as important to them. The wonderful team of medics and nurses have the skills to support families when they really do need it.

I couldn’t put a rating on Wirral Hospice – if I did it would be a million stars! You’re made to feel like family and it starts to feel like home.

I can never repay the team at Wirral hospice for what they did but volunteering is my way of giving something back.

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One of our patients, Tommy, tells us how he’s gone from repairing 40tonne wagons to #woodcarving ! #hospiceheroes #hospicecareweek #hospicecare #wearehospicecare

Tommy Collins 1Tommy Collins was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2000 and an operation to remove it in 2001. 17 years down the line and Tommy has been receiving chemotherapy. His specialist referred Tommy to Wirral Hospice St John’s.

“The only word that stayed with me during our conversation was ‘hospice’. I assumed you walked into a hospice to get fitted with a wooden overcoat to be carried out in so I was not looking forward to my first visit!

I arrive with a closed mind and was trying to come to terms with why I was here. The staff and volunteers greeted us with a smile and a cup of tea, and I was introduced to other patients. I had an appointment with one of the consultants, which was followed by a lunch (soup and a sandwich). Back to the Day Therapy room for some relaxation exercises then time for home.

I had much to think about but was not sure the hospice was for me; it was not what I’d imagined. I decide to give it another go next week though just to see.

Having returned the following week, things became clearer and I received good advice and information about health, social and financial matters and details of care support teams I could access for help. I was also given help in managing fatigue and breathlessness with COPD and met with a counsellor, which proved very helpful.

I was introduced to the craft table and given a lump of clay. I used to repair 40 tonne wagons on the side of motorways, so clay stood no chance and I made two mushrooms successfully!

I soon got around to making a nuisance of myself but I think I have helped to brighten the day for others a little. I have come to really look forward to my visits!

As well as clay mushrooms, I’ve also started making lots of wooden pieces: a wishing well, garden chair, tables, cake stands, planters and lots of bowls. I have really enjoyed this. It’s a good distraction for me and I find working with natural materials very therapeutic.

I would advise anyone to give the hospice a go if they are unsure but have been referred to it. Please don’t let the word ‘hospice’ put you off – they have been so supportive, not only to me but to my wife too. We have been given a refreshed perspective on my illness and everyone has been so supportive, I can’t thank the hospice team enough.”

Tommy’s wooden pieces will shortly be for sale in our Facebook shop – watch this space!

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Brenda has worked at the hospice for more than 33 years! #hospiceheroes #hospicecareweek #hospicecare #wearehospicecare

brenda taylor 1For Hospice Care Week, we thought it would be nice to share some stories of some of our staff, volunteers, patients and special friends. We’re delighted to share more about this lovely lady, Brenda Taylor, who has been part of Wirral Hospice St John’s for more than 33 years!

Meet Brenda Taylor:
I have lived on the Wirral all my life – I was brought up in Bromborough, went to school in Bromborough and I live in Eastham so I have always been local. I am married with two grown-up children; my son is in the Royal Navy and lives in Plymouth and my daughter and granddaughter live locally.

How long has Wirral Hospice been a part of your life?
A long, long time! I was 29 years old when I started at Wirral Hospice and I can tell you that it was the first of March 1984, in the morning, and it was a Thursday!!

I was the first and only Auxiliary Nurse to work a day shift on the Ward and this was my role for approximately 24 years. Also during this time I worked in the Outpatients clinic one day a week. For the last ten years I have worked across the Outpatients and Day Therapy units, and more recently co-ordinating Outpatients clinics, which is now my main role.

What are your Hospice Highlights?
Seeing the hospice grow from a small, single building (previously the old Clatterbridge children’s ward) to a larger purpose built Inpatient Ward, and then developing further to provide an Outpatient department has been a real highlight and I’m proud to have been a part of this growth.

Also for me personally, to support and assist patients who have been on such a long journey really is an honour, and a privilege to be able to assist patients and their families.

What does hospice care mean to you?
Treating people with compassion and dignity on a daily basis is big part of the hospice message and I see evidence of this every day here at Wirral Hospice St John’s. The relationships I have built with fellow staff and volunteers that I work alongside make them feel almost like family. After more than 33 years, and much development, Wirral Hospice often feels like my second home!

My wish for the future is that Wirral Hospice will continue to move forward providing even more quality care for the people of Wirral.

To find out more about our hospice care, please visit http://www.wirralhospice.org or call 0151 334 2778.

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Meet #fundraiser Julia and learn more about the most recent campaign @wirralhospice

julia pond barrow summer memoriesWhat is your role at Wirral Hospice St John’s?
My day to day role includes looking after all donations that come through to Wirral Hospice St John’s Fundraising Office. I also look after the fundraising database, gifts in wills and liaise with solicitors.

I am responsible for our different giving campaigns; we promote about three big campaigns a year, which includes Light up a Life, Make a Will month and Summer Memories.

Another aspect of my role is to apply for charitable trust funding to secure grants towards important pieces of equipment for the hospice or support for our essential day-to-day patient care costs, which are in the region of £3.6million a year.

Why did you choose to work/volunteer at Wirral Hospice St John’s?
I began my career at Wirral Hospice in 2002 when I applied for a Fundraising Administrator role advertised in the local paper. I chose to apply as it was a local charity and my father-in-law was working here so I already knew how fantastic it was in supporting the local community.

I have worked here for more than 15 years and progressed in experience and responsibility to my current role as a Fundraising Development Manager.

My days in the fundraising office are always different and I love the variety my role brings!

What is the most rewarding part of your role?
I feel a great sense of achievement when I apply for funding for Wirral Hospice and we are successful, as I know the donations we are receiving are going towards the Hospice and will be extremely beneficial for our patients and their loved ones.

I also find it rewarding when a campaign I have been working on for months is successful and the response we get back from our supporters is positive. From personally getting to know the patients and families it always means to know that I am helping to make a difference to the care and support that they are able to receive from us.

What is the latest campaign you are working on?
I am currently in the middle of working on Summer Memories. This is our second year of running this particular campaign and it encourages supporters to sponsor a sunflower.

The sunflowers about 25cm high and made from a durable, high quality material which means they will last in our unpredictable British weather!

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What is the main aim of the campaign?
The main aim is for supporters to be able to have a thoughtful keepsake, which can be kept inside or even out in the garden or perhaps at the grave of a loved one.

Donations, no matter how small someone may think a gift might be, really can help our charity to keep delivering outstanding care for our patients, their families and carers.

How can people get a flower?
To sponsor a Summer Memories sunflower, please pop into the Fundraising Office (open 9am-5pm Mon to Fri), call 0151 343 0778 or visit www.wirralhospice.org.

To find out about other ways you can support Wirral Hospice St John’s, please visit our Get Involved section of our website or call 0151 343 0778 to speak with a member of the Fundraising Team.

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