Close to You: Lisa and Clare tell us all about their Carpenters fan mum, Jacqueline Calland, who was with us at Wirral Hospice St John’s in 2019

#compassion #care #hospiceheroes #wirralhospice #family #hospicecare #caring #thankyou

Clare, Jac and Lisa

Late on, on Saturday 7th December last year, Jacqueline Calland, (known as Jac to all her friends) sadly passed away at Wirral Hospice St John’s.

It was the night before the hospice’s annual Light up a Life lights switch-on service and Jac’s daughters, Lisa and Clare, feeling a strong bond for where their mum had been cared for in the previous couple of weeks, decided to attend the service in memory of, and as a tribute to, her.

“Mum loved Christmas, she looked forward to it, in fact everything to do with it, she would watch seasonal films all year round if she could. We’d only said goodbye to her hours earlier but it felt so right to be there among many people with their own memories and, the lights were just beautiful. It helped us all so much knowing her light was shining there.”

Lisa and Clare resolved that they would always support Light up a Life but, like all of us, they couldn’t have foreseen that COVID 19 would lead the hospice to make a really difficult decision, to cancel the switch-on service in 2020*.

However, through the bereavement counselling they have been able to receive, continuing by phone since February with our bereavement services coordinator, Stella, they have volunteered to speak on the virtual lights switch on service the hospice is producing for people to view online from 6pm on Sunday 6th December, about the care and support their mum received and the special place the hospice has in their hearts.

We asked Lisa and Clare to tell us a little bit more about mum, Jac. Their love and complete admiration for how she had conquered her own challenges in early life to become a loving mum and doting Grandma came shining through.

“Mum was born and brought up in Glasgow until aged 12 when the family moved down to Wirral. Her older brother, our uncle Robert, had a nasty accident while working here and needed to be taken care of.

It’s fair to say that mum had a turbulent childhood. Her mum and dad led, what would nowadays be termed, ‘chaotic’ lives and so very often she would have to fend for herself.

We are her four children, Lisa, Clare, Catherine and Andrew and we brought her the 15 grandchildren who became her absolute life. Every day she would say how blessed she was to have them and kept their photo at the foot of her bed all the time she was in the hospice.

She’d worked hard, mainly as a single mum, as a carer, barmaid and childminder. Despite her own adverse circumstances in her early days she still cared for her own mum and dad when they became poorly in later life. Our sister Catherine has autism and mum cared for her too.

Along with Christmas she loved lots of things, songs by The Carpenters, the ‘Keeping Faith’ soundtrack from the popular BBC series, she was fascinated by ‘The Radfords’ family who had their own TV programme about their large family, she also sang in the Pop Vox choir with Lisa and granddaughter Ellee (sponsored by LIPA), enjoyed holidays with her friend Cathy and our families, eating out, cinema and she absolutely ‘rocked’ a bit of leopard print!

We knew her as a proud, glamorous and positive person who wouldn’t be seen without her ‘lippy’ on!

Gardening became a joy for her and the family have recently bought a tree to plant in mum’s honour.

Somebody else told us that she would often go out to the Pound Bakery and spend £20 or so and then go and hand out food and hot drinks to homeless people. When we asked why she hadn’t told us, she just said “Well, why would I tell you or anyone really? It’s just something I like to do.”

Mum was straight talking and everyone loved that about her. When we think back we know we got our independence and ability to cope with life’s problems from her.

In 2004 Mum was diagnosed with neurological dystonia which presented as involuntary muscle spasms in her face, head and neck). Quarterly injections of botox gave some relief but by 2012 the condition had worsened so a full body scan was ordered to check for other causes. After discovering a large cyst an operation to remove it also uncovered lesions associated with peritoneal cancer.

Looking back now, and although it was devastating at the time, it meant with treatment, (Mum combined the professional medical treatments with some alternative therapies), she felt as well as she possibly could for as long as possible.

Complications meant that she had a tumour removed in 2016 and thereafter, having lived with and overcome various challenges, a bilateral stroke while in hospital in September 2019 left her blinded. She was gravely ill.

So it was that, on the recommendation of Dr Richard (Latten, a hospice consultant), she was referred to Wirral Hospice St John’s on 26th November 2019.

The sisters remember that almost as soon as she arrived on the inpatients ward her whole demeanour changed.

“Mum had been anxious and irritated but very quickly she was calm and relaxed. The hospice was a safe, comfortable and relaxing environment where mum’s best interests were the first priority. We felt the communication was first class and ‘hands on’ caring was taken out of our hands so that we could just be with our mum again.”

Since Jac passed away the sisters have described Stella’s counselling as being a rock for them, if anything bringing them even closer as a family, and has helped Clare appreciate even more the work she does as a nurse at Clatterbridge supporting people with eating disorders.

The younger grandchildren have a ‘Grandma Bear’ which they take everywhere with them and they all take comfort in ‘seeing’ their mum and grandma in rainbows and white feathers from time to time.

Our hospice colleague, Jamie-Leigh, had met with Lisa and Clare to hear their story and she recounts that throughout the conversation a little Red Robin was bobbing around the whole time. Lisa and Clare had said that they felt it was their mum keeping an eye on them. 

Reminds me a little of the lyrics from ‘Close to You’ by The Carpenters,

“Why do birds suddenly appear

Every time you are near,

Just like me, they long to be

Close to you…”

She is, Lisa and Clare, she really is!

Author: Billy Howard

NB: *(Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and to keep everyone safe, the hospice has made the difficult decision to cancel the annual outdoor Light up a Life switch-on service for this year.

The hospice is instead endeavouring to reach out to even more families across Wirral with a pre-recorded film of the lights switch on service. This will be available to view from the comfort of people’s own homes, via the hospice’s website, from 6pm on Sunday 6th December.

The short film will capture the spirit of the lights switch-on, interspersed with carols from a socially-distanced hospice choir featuring locally renowned singer, Sarah Mullis. It will also contain the recollections of people, like Lisa and Clare, whose families have experienced the hospice’s dedicated care as well as heartfelt thoughts and readings from the hospice team, including some wonderful volunteers.

More details can be found at www.wirralhospice.org/lightupalife

You are not alone: Jennifer Pickavance remembers her mum, Michaela, and the kind and compassionate care she came to know at Wirral Hospice St John’s #care #hospicehero #wirralhospice #support #hospicecare #caring #thankyou #lightupalife

Emma, Michaela and Jen

In what has been a challenging time for all of us, Jennifer Pickavance, ‘Jen’, and her sister, Emma, and their wider family, have been through much more than many.

Jen and Emma’s mum, Michaela had been living with a primary diagnosis of lung cancer, complicated by tumours in her brain and vertebrae, since September 2017. Jen assures us that her Mum lived her life as well as she possibly could in these last few years, holidaying and socialising with friends whenever possible, before she sadly passed away at Wirral Hospice St John’s in April.

The hospice’s Jamie-Leigh and I met with Jen as she has volunteered to speak on a pre-recorded film we’re producing for our annual Light up a Life commemorations*, and she told us all about Michaela, her lovely Mum.

She was my best friend, we spent every minute we could together and I couldn’t have asked for a better mum. I find it hard put into words how much she meant, and still means, to me and how much I love her.  

After mum recovered from anxiety and panic attacks herself, she wanted to pursue a career in mental health to help others. She was in her 40’s when she attended Chester University to study Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). We were all so proud when she attained her Diploma in CBT and when, soon after which, she became a high intensity CBT therapist at Inclusion Matters, Wirral.

Emma and Jen hug Mum, Michaela, at her graduation

When her illness was first diagnosed it appeared that her prognosis wasn’t great, but Dr Carlo (Palmieri, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre) was amazing and found she had a rare type of lung cancer which meant her initial treatment would not have to be as intense as it sometimes can.

For two years, she was doing really well. She was as fit and healthy as she could be and, for the most part, got to enjoy the things she loved doing, nice holidays and being with family, she was close with her sisters Trisha, Donna and Lizzie (she was the second oldest) and had a wide circle of lovely friends.

By late 2019 however, the illness was catching up and she underwent radiotherapy and an intensive course of combined chemotherapy and immunotherapy. By January she’d experienced a seizure and was admitted to Wirral Hospice’s inpatients ward.

She had already been an outpatient at the hospice for over a year under Dr Helen (Emms, a consultant at the hospice), whom she loved, and Mum had also been a patient in the hospice’s Wellbeing Centre where she took part in arts and crafts and aromatherapy sessions which she really enjoyed.

She was able to access counselling too which I think helped her a lot. The hospice was a whole new experience for her. I knew she felt safe and at ease in the calm and caring atmosphere of the hospice.

The hospice team really helped her manage her anxiety and went above and beyond for her.

Her 53rd birthday fell on the 8th March and the hospice helped us arrange a party in their family room which meant a great deal to us all. It’s a lovely memory we will cherish forever. She liked everyone she met at the hospice and had a special regard for the hospice’s Tracy, and many others, who showed her so much care and compassion and always managed to cheer her up.

I know my mum would have loved to be at home towards the end of her life but it wasn’t possible and the hospice was actually the perfect place for her as they cared for her in ways I don’t think we could have.

I can’t thank the hospice staff enough for what they did for our family, one of the nurses, Sandy, held my mum’s hand in the moment she passed away. That’s not a job just anybody could do, I will always appreciate that and hold it in my heart forever. 

I am so beyond grateful for everything the hospice did for us, and does for others. I have never experienced the loss of a loved one before. The hospice made our heartbreaking experience that little more bearable.

The continued support they’ve given me is so appreciated, I am forever grateful”. 

It was a devastating time in itself for Jen, Emma and the family, Michaela was only 53, but their pain was further compounded when, in the same week, their Nan, Pat, and Grandad, George, Michaela’s parents, passed away after succumbing to COVID 19.

It’s been, simply, heartbreaking!

At only 23 years of age Jen has coped with so much this year. She has a great supportive network of aunties, uncles, cousins, her Dad and his family and lots of close friends. She talks all the time to her sister, Emma, who lives in London with her boyfriend, and who makes regular trips home to Wirral for ‘quality sister time‘ whenever they can.

Jen also looks after and takes great comfort from their dog, Candy, a cute Bichon Frise.

Jamie-Leigh and I came away from meeting Jen in complete admiration. She’s been, understandably, tearful at times, but so brave and so eloquent.

She’s a real credit to her whole family and, of course, Michaela, her lovely mum!

Michaela

NB: *(Due to the COVID-19 restrictions and to keep everyone safe, the hospice has made the difficult decision to cancel the annual outdoor Light up a Life switch-on service for this year.

The hospice is instead endeavouring to reach out to even more families across Wirral with a pre-recorded film of the lights switch on service. This will be available to view from the comfort of people’s own homes, via the hospice’s website, from 6pm on Sunday 6th December.

The short film will capture the spirit of the lights switch-on, interspersed with carols from a socially-distanced hospice choir featuring locally renowned singer, Sarah Mullis. It will also contain the recollections of people, like Jen, whose families have experienced the hospice’s dedicated care as well as heartfelt thoughts and readings from the hospice team, including some wonderful volunteers.

More details can be found at www.wirralhospice.org/light-up-a-life

The Donation Station. Pre-loved goods now being gathered at our Hoylake Donation Centre #wirralhospice #charityshops #pre-loved #volunteers #care #hospicecare #thankyou

Paddy Thumbs UpIt’s 9.45am on a bright Wednesday morning in Market Street in Hoylake. The cafés and bars are preparing their morning coffee and brunch offers, setting out neat tables and chairs for their customers in the open air as well as spacing them safely indoors.

Some retailers are also open and taking the necessary precautions so that their customers can shop safely whilst observing the current coronavirus guidelines.

Wirral Hospice St John’s big new Hoylake Donation Centre (HDC), at the former site of the Coop store, adjacent to The Row in Hoylake, is already buzzing with staff and volunteers sifting through thousands of items of clothing, toys, household items, bags, and jewellery as well as all kinds of weird (occasionally) and wonderful bric-a-brac and accessories that piled in the week before.

From rags (gratefully accepted as we can get a donation for recycling them) to potential riches, witness Hayley in the designer sunglasses alongside other potentially lucrative branded clothing, shoes, handbags and eye-catching curios which will be sorted for the hospice ebay account. Hayley Sunglasses

It’s only the second week of operation but the HDC is in full swing. Everything that has been donated in the previous week has now been safely quarantined (has to be for at least 72 hours).

As the centre is only open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, between 10am and 3pm for donations, all of the previous week’s goodies are now being furiously sorted for re-distribution to the charity shops.

There’s 6,000 square feet of space with the floors clearly marked off ready for the influx of new donors who have booked a slot to drop off their goods at the rear of the donation centre!

At five minutes to ten the first car arrives with a boot (and back seat) full of boxes and bin bags ready to stack onto the loading bay at the rear of the store.

Our supporters have followed the instructions at www.wirralhospice.org/shopping to book a slot and then received an email with a map explaining how to get to the back of the store at their chosen time.

l-r Hayley and Jamie LeighPaddy (Patrick Smith, the hospice’s Retail Development Manager, thumbs up in the pic at the top of this story) is ready, alongside a further two fundraising staff (today it’s Hayley and Jamie-Leigh, pictured below, although a number of others have helped the week before and are ready to step in for the foreseeable future), to greet the hospice supporters, direct them to safely lay down their pre-loved items and then, if they’re eligible, advise them on how to sign-up to Gift Aid to allow the hospice to claim a further 25% on their donated items.

Now, the the safe movement and storage begins and, let me tell you, it’s a virtual marathon!

A steady stream of donors start to unload and, after labelling the bags and boxes which are gift-aided, the team start to make the journey, laden with bags, into the space inside and then back outside to receive/carry more and more goods.

By 11am the team have already clocked up over 4,000 steps each and their biceps and quadriceps are burning. A great workout, just another 4 or 5 hours to go!

Kerry SortingMeanwhile, Kerry  (in green here), Sue (in hospice blue below) and Helen (too shy for photo), who normally volunteer at our New Brighton shop, are in the ‘space beyond storage’, opening bin bags and boxes, at socially distanced tables, while organizing everything ready for transport to our shops at Moreton, Liscard, Birkenhead and New Brighton which have recently re-opened.Sue Sorting

In time our other charity shops, at Claughton, Heswall and West Kirby, will also open and the stock that is now flooding into the Hoylake Donation Centre will help to fill up their rails, shelves and displays.​​​​​​​

Having to close the shops these past several months due to the coronavirus has inevitably hit revenues hard. All of the donations and the hard work of staff and volunteers gives us all the greatest belief that we will, as soon as allowed, rebuild the charity shops back to making their massive financial contribution to the specialist care and support services for which the hospice is held in such high regard.

Quite Rightly!

There is now a limited service for people wanting to donate larger items, sofas, three-piece suites, beds, wardrobes and other furniture items. Time and space is currently at a premium for this and potential donors are being asked to send photos, with fire labels where appropriate, to fundraising@wirralhospice.org to join the waiting list for pick up.

There are also opportunities for people who live in or close to Hoylake, and who might like to volunteer to help with sorting goods, to join the effort. Any people who may have some time to spare, can use the same email address to register their interest. 

This one’s for you Dad. Andy McKinney and friends to ride from Chester to Amsterdam in memory of dad, Paul. #hospicehero #hospicecare #nursing #fundraising #bikeride #care #thank you

Andy McKinney with bikersAndy McKinney is full of pride when he remembers his dad, Paul, who was with us at Wirral Hospice St John’s until October 2019 when he passed away, having lived with throat and lung cancer for several years.

The hospice couldn’t do enough for my dad. The nurses were so attentive and the care he received was, honestly, second to none. He’d be delighted now that we’re aiming to raise some funds for the hospice with our bike ride from Chester to Amsterdam. The lads have been training so hard to make him proud.

Yes, on Wednesday 19th August, Andy and six other friends will be setting off on their bikes from the iconic Eastgate Clock in Chester to arrive three days later, via the Hook of Holland port, to Amsterdam Rijksmuseum (not ‘bikes museum’!)

It’s a grueling and intense ride from one beautiful City to another. The first day is, just the 71 miles, the steepest in climbs (up to around nearly 1400 feet in parts), will see them eventually settle for the evening in the Pennines at Thurlstone MillHouse.

Then, day two is the small matter of 82 miles from South to East Yorkshire to Hull, again the undulating terrain which will test even the keenest of riders.

Having taken the ferry from Hull to Hook of Holland (Hoek Van Holland) on the third leg of their epic journey they ride out on the final 45 mile ride up to Amsterdam. Thankfully in Holland, as everyone knows, the land is a little flatter so that should help on the now, extremely, tired legs.

Andy tells me a little bit more about his dad, (they’re pictured together here enjoying a drink).Andy McKinney with Dad Paul

Paul was born in Hamilton, Ontario in Canada and Andy’s the middle sibling of three brothers all also born in Canada.

Andy McKinney dad coachAs you might guess Ice Hockey was a favourite sport and when Paul and his sons came to the UK, he coached the Deeside Junior Ice Hockey club, The Deeside Dragons. He was held in great affection by many young people, being seen as a teacher and mentor by everyone who enjoyed their time there.

He lived in Chester for many years before settling in Wirral with his beloved Tarnya whom he met at the winter Ice Rink at Chester Zoo which he managed and where she was head of first aid.

They settled in Wirral where Paul’s passion for the whole region flourished, so much so, that Andy says they could have made him a Blue Badge Tour Guide for all of his visiting friends and relatives.

Before, during and, really, despite his illness Paul always motivated his sons to develop positive attitudes, to follow their dreams, travel the world and challenge themselves to new things and sporting achievements.

Andy himself is now a professional player in the National Ice Hockey League for Telford Tigers and, although he’s too humble to say, a google search shows he’s more than capable of handling himself in a very tough sport!Andy McKinney playing

So you just know that, as they’re all set to go, the team made up of Andy and friends, Joel Bate, Tom Briggs, Matt Davison, Luke Briggs, Jack Watkins and Ross Kennedy will be in good shape to complete the challenge.

Andy launched a Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/john-paul-mckinney setting a challenging target of £10,000 between them to make a great donation to the hospice.

Great good luck chaps. Or ‘Succes (no extra ‘s’) as the Dutch will definitely say.

Author: Billy Howard

Spotlight On: Angela Hughes, a patient in our Wellbeing Centre who had a part as a child actor in 1958 Hollywood Movie, Inn of the Sixth Happiness. #wirralhospice #wellbeing #hospicehero #lifetime #nursing #care #support

Angela Hughes and LesleyAngela Hughes is, simply, a lovely lady. (Here she’s pictured with our Wellbeing  nurse, Lesley). She loves coming to the Wellbeing Centre at Wirral Hospice St John’s. The therapies and treatments are helping her live as well as possible with her COPD but, most of all, she looks forward to sitting with people, like herself, with various challenging conditions, and just chatting.

“They’re my friends and it’s great to spend time with them!”

It would be fair to say that Angela is small in height but she more than makes up for it in personality. She’s got a really interesting life story and I sat down with her to hear a bit more about it.

She was born, Angela Woo, in St George’s Place in Liverpool, at the heart of the oldest Chinese community in Europe, known locally as Chinatown, to a Chinese father, who died when Angela was two and an English mother, Alice.

Angela Hughes 6She says that the title ‘child actor’ overstates her role in the Twentieth Century Fox film, made in 1958, Inn of the Sixth Happiness. The film attempts to highlight the real life bravery of legendary Chinese missionary, Gladys Aylward, (the film is not completely accurate according to Gladys herself), who is played in the film by famous Hollywood actress, Ingrid Bergman.

The film depicts a period in the Second World War when Gladys led a group of Chinese children, orphaned in the Sino-Japanese war, to safety over the mountains of China. It was actually shot in the mountains of North Wales and 100 Chinese children from Liverpool played the orphans.

Angela says, “There was an advert in The Liverpool Echo and mum put me forward. The rest, as they say, is history.”

It certainly is. It’s also the reason that many people who were children in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s remember the song, This Old Man, so fondly. “♫This Old Man, he played one, he played knick knack on my thumb… ♫”

Happy Days indeed!

So, following her Hollywood ‘debut’ young Angela was enrolled in Margaret Cox’s dancing school in Parliament Street in Liverpool. She showed plenty of promise and was soon off to the Pavilion Theatre in Rhyl for a regular acrobatic ladder act and more dancing.Angela Hughes 1

“I was extremely flexible as a teenager and I was soon recruited to the Circus.”

Via Billy Smart’s and Bingley Hall in Manchester, Angela moved on to the famous Dick Chipperfield’s Circus.

In those days tamed animals were part of the attraction and Angela would ride horses, elephants, camels, and rhinos as part of bringing in the crowds all around the UK.

Angela Hughes 3“I also performed acrobatics and a ballerina act. We’d have fun being chased by, and chasing, the clowns around the Circus ring. The famous ‘bucket of water into the crowd, which turns out to be confetti’ was one of my jobs and it did get a lot of laughs”.

Angela’s first marriage produced “five wonderful children” who she clearly adores. “They’re always there for me and, of course, the 20 grandchildren and great-grandchildren keep me very busy.”

Her second marriage to the love of her life, Tommy Hughes, was a happy one. Tommy has his own place in music history as one of the original members of Merseybeat favourites, The Swinging Blue Jeans. Sadly, Tommy died in 2013. 

Originally The Bluegenes were a skiffle group formed in 1956 and Tommy played the banjo. However National Service cut short Tommy’s growing career and he missed out on their later considerable success in the 1960’s. Have a listen to Tommy talking about his career here https://www.vincetracy.com/podcastfile/tommyhughesswingingbluejeans8october.wav

Tommy and Angela used to sing ‘live’ together in his later years which underlines Angela’s own wide-ranging talents.

It’s emotional for Angela so I move on to ask about Wirral Hospice St John’s and her experience here.

“People are so lovely, caring, understanding. No one judges you they’re just as helpful as can be. I love meeting the people who are in a similar position to my own. There’s a lot of sharing. We’re like our own little community. They’re all very special people.”

Angela gets breathing exercises and strategies to cope with breathlessness. She has strong, heartfelt advice for young people,

“Don’t Smoke, it’s that simple. There are enough people now, who started in the time before we knew its real effects, who are living with the consequences.”

Wise Words from a wise lady! I ask her how she views her own situation and, in a throwback to her Liverpool roots, she says (maybe using a different word).

Stuff happens! I’m just glad that I have my family and the people here at Wirral Hospice St John’s to help me to cope.”

We love having you around Angela, thank you for sharing so much about your fascinating life!Angela Hughes 2

Author: Billy Howard

 

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