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

 

Advertisements

Biggest #thankyou ever for all the patient trolley donations we’ve received!

wirral_hospice_patient_drinks_trolleywirral_hospice_patient_trolley_chantelleWe have been absolutely overwhelmed by your generosity towards our patient drinks trolley request. Thank you so much!

Hundreds of bottles of spirits and wine, cans of beer and cholcolate snacks have been donated to Wirral Hospice St John’s in the last few weeks. The donations have been coming and coming and coming… Our patient trolley will be stocked up for years to come at this rate!

This all came about thanks to Facebook Memories throwing up an old post of ours from two years ago, and it getting liked and shared hundreds/thousands of times!

We are so very grateful to everyone for thinking of our patients – they are offered a drink or two under medical supervision to help them relax and to help stimulate appetite. We must stress that it isn’t a carnival atmosphere at the Hospice (well not every day!) but it is a happy and homely place so a small drink can be a wonderful tonic for our patients, as many of us will appreciate.

Some of the bottles we’ve been donated are probably not appropriate for patient consumption (Tequila, Absinthe…) and we have  more than enough spirits to last us a few years – so we will be using some the donations as fundraising raffle prizes to in turn help raise money for the Hospice’s day-to-day care and support of our patients and their families.

If you would like to make a small donation in lieu of bottles for the trolley, you can send a cheque made payable to ‘Wirral Hospice St John’s’ to Wirral Hospice St John’s, Fundraising Office, Mount Road, Higher Bebington, Wirral CH63 6JE or you can text DRNK15 £2, £5 or £10 to 70070.

Thank you so much!

Teresa (hic, just joking!) x

Three of our patients talk about what our Hospice means to them and their loved ones #familiesmatter #hospicecare

wirral_hospice_extension

What does the word ‘Hospice’ mean to you?

If you asked that question to the patients at Wirral Hospice St John’s, you’d probably be surprised at the answer.  Largely speaking, they are confident and optimistic for the future, sure in the knowledge that, although seriously ill, they are living their lives as fully and as comfortably as possible. Hospice means a safe haven, where they are helped to live how they want as well as they can.

Diagnosis of a serious incurable condition comes as a shock to most people. They often envisage a short and bleak future. The Hospice comes in at this point and, in addition to giving care and helping people to stabilise their conditions, it gives them confidence for the future.

John, is living with cancer, he has been coming to Wirral Hospice for 18 months, “When I was diagnosed, life became absolutely full. Doctors, nurses, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy: something was going on all the time. Then, at the finish, I felt cast adrift – busy every day of the week, and then nothing. Then the Hospice came into my life, and offered me a lifeline. It was a regular thing that I could rely on.”

Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: