Spotlight On: Bill Collins, 80 years young and a #wirralhospice #volunteer for more than 30 years #hospicehero #caring #fundraising #congratulations #wellbeing #patientcare #wirralcommunity

Bill Collins with CaroleDevoted Wirral Hospice St John’s volunteer, Mr Bill Collins, speaks from the heart, “I love the place, I love the people, I just love everything about it!”

Bill is a big part of hospice life. He’s volunteered at Wirral Hospice St John’s for over 30 years, and, nowadays, he adds massive value to our inpatients ward every Tuesday evening. He feels the special emotions of Christmas time too – he has given two or three hours of his time every Christmas and Boxing Day for all of those years.

On the Inpatient ward at the hospice, Bill will serve patients and their families with drinks, make sure people have fresh water and, whenever asked, will be available for a welcome chat. Our volunteers help to take some of the time pressures from the ward staff and, although Bill won’t take credit, we know it must be more than a little cheering and interesting for any patient, or family member, who spends a little time just chewing the fat with Bill.

He doesn’t say it but, it’s clear from our conversation, Bill is also a team player. He always wants to mention the hard work and dedication of fellow volunteers, especially his friend Margaret Halewood who has been volunteering with him on the ward for 25 years. He also credits volunteer receptionists Tina Hughes and Karen Ellis, who are part of the Inpatients ward Tuesday evening volunteer group.

When asked what he thinks of the hospice and the people he meets or works alongside, his passion shines through; “I think the world of them, I’m just so proud to be a part of it. All our services and all the different people, patients, families, volunteers and staff, we’re like a family”,

Bill Collins

Bill got involved with volunteering after his own Mum, Nell’s, progressive illness worsened and he spent time as the main carer for her and later when his Dad, Jack, also became ill. He’d taken early retirement from Shell at their Thornton research facility, now part of the University of Chester, where he’d been a laboratory steward, to fulfil his carer’s role.

After his Mum passed away, Bill was asked to consider volunteering at Wirral Hospice St John’s. He remembers applying and as soon as his ‘induction’ was completed he “loved it straight away.” Joyce Reeves (later Jones) was the first Matron of the hospice, serving between 1983 and 1998. He fondly recalls Matron Jones as “a wonderful woman.”

He chuckles heartily when he recounts the time the hospice obtained its first bed hoist. The nurses insisted that Bill was the ideal candidate to test the equipment. “I was like a puppet suspended in mid-air, while the nurses were enjoying the spectacle, laughing their heads off.” (It would be a ‘Health and Safety’ thing nowadays, so new volunteers shouldn’t worry!)

Bill keeps himself fit by swimming four times a week, doing plenty of walking and looking in on his ‘older’ neighbours in Bromborough. What is remarkable, and might be news to some of his friends around the hospice, is he had a triple heart by-pass in 2001! Typical of Bill, he plays it down! “I’ve just listened to the doctors, I watch what I eat and I’ve had no major problems!”

We’re really glad to hear it, Bill.

He enjoys his holidays and short breaks. Trips to North Wales are a pleasure he thoroughly enjoys but, most of all, Bill looks forward to his annual trip to the Algarve, with a gang of people who have become firm friends over the years. He stays in a little village called Sesmarias not far from the tranquil Praia de Coelha beach and a short drive into the bustling town of Albufeira. Lovely!

Bill Collins 2

Bill helps the hospice in other ways too. Each year he helps to run the St Barnabas church hall Christmas Fayre, in Bromborough, with his good friend, Betty Richards. The first year he did this he made £63 and now, following this year’s event, selling hospice Christmas cards and calendars, Bill has now raised over £25,000 since becoming a volunteer.

By writing a special poem in recent years for our annual Light up a Life switch-on service in the hospice gardens, Bill has also made an extra special contribution to the whole Wirral community.

This year’s poem  is so poignant and I ask Bill where he gets his inspiration. “I think of all the people I’ve met at the hospice down the years. I write for the families who have been touched by what we do, my mum and dad, and my sister, Barbara, and her family. Being involved as a volunteer has made me a better person.”

Here is Bill’s heartfelt poem:

Memories in Lights

You’re in my thoughts every single day,
Of things we did and things we’d say,

How we laughed, the times we cried,
Always together, side by side.

When we hugged and when we kissed,
The times we sat and reminisced.

It’s hard to take, now we’re apart
But you’re forever in my heart.

I see your face within the light,
And feel you’re here, with me, tonight.

Wonderful, Bill!

In a magnificent coincidence, this inspiring story is published on Bill’s 80th birthday (6th December, 2018).

Some, of his very many, hospice friends gathered to say, “Many Happy Returns, Bill, thank you so much for all that you do for Wirral Hospice St John’s.”

Bill Collins 80 Group

Author: Billy Howard

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It’s Occupational Therapy Week #OTWEEK2017 we’d like you to meet Katy Firth, our very own Occupational Therapist!

crop katie firthTell us a little bit about yourself
I have recently moved to the North West from Southampton but I am originally from Whitley Bay on the North East coast and I did my training at York St John University.

Before moving here I worked in University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. I worked there for five years and I did a number of rotations including acute oncology and it was there where I found my passion for oncology and palliative care. Prior to moving I worked within acute oncology as a static member of staff for just over a year and whilst I was there I completed a master’s module in palliative care.

My parents still live in the North East but most of the rest of my family live in Lancashire and my twin sister lives in Manchester so being back closer to family inspired mine and my husband’s move to the North West. I am an active person who enjoys outdoor activities and I am active member of the scout association.

How long has Wirral Hospice been a part of your life?
I have only been at the hospice for two months and I have really appreciated how welcoming and friendly everyone has been.

What are your Hospice Highlights?

  • The warm and approachable staff and volunteers
  • The green space around the hospice that helps create a calm environment
  • To have joined such a friendly and supportive team.


What does hospice care mean to you?
To me, hospice care means working together as a multidisciplinary team to provide holistic person centred care to people who have life limiting illnesses, to empower them to live life as independently and fully as possible. As an occupational therapist my role is to support people to live not just exist. By enabling patients to maintain their independence and engagement in everyday and meaningful activities, whilst supporting them to cope with their changing condition, helping them understand and adapt to the changes that they are experiencing in everyday life.

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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

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!

Pic with staff and vols

Huge congratulations to Brenda, who has been awarded a #Cheshire #WomanoftheYear #LifetimeAchievement #Award for her professional achievements! Brenda has worked at #wirralhospice for more than 34 years! #hospicehero #thankyou #congratulations #wirral

brenda taylor 1Huge congratulations to Brenda, who has been awarded a Cheshire Woman of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award for her professional achievements! What a lovely way for her to be thanked for her many years of dedicated service to the Wirral community.

You can read more below about how Brenda started her career with Wirral Hospice St John’s almost 34 years ago!

Original posted edited 19.04.18

For 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 34 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.

brenda taylor 2

 

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