11/12/2023 12:05 PM - 26/12/2023 12:00 PM

Can you help us pay for Christmas Day?

Christmas for many families – especially younger members – is a colourful, magical and joyful time of year, something to get excited about and really look forward to. And that’s just how it should be.

It’s not like quite like that for everyone, though.

This Christmas, I’ll be with my colleagues on the hospice ward helping to care for our very ill patients and of course supporting their families.

Most will have come to terms with the fact that this may be their final Christmas together and it’s such a privilege for every one of the care staff and our volunteers to be able to use our skills and experience to support, reassure and care for them at such a really difficult time.

It’s our choice to work on Christmas Day. That’s how special we think it is to be able to do what we do. Christmas at the hospice is extraordinary. Our patients can’t be at home but that doesn’t mean it’s a place filled with sadness and despair. Far from it.

On Christmas morning last year, Robert Ryan was preparing to set o from home to collect Evonne, his wife of 22 years, from our inpatient unit here at the hospice.

Evonne, 49, had been on the ward for six weeks, the latest of several hospice stays following years of ill-health and having received a terminal diagnosis in November 2021.

The plan was to take her out for the day to her parents’ home in Chester for a family Christmas, possibly her last.

The table was laid, presents wrapped and under the tree, and the food was being prepared. They would be joined by Robert and Evonne’s children, Luke, 30, and 18-year-old Maddie, and Evonne’s brother Damian, 41.

At around 11.00am, Damian suffered a heart attack and was rushed to hospital. With the festivities understandably cancelled, Robert telephoned the hospice to explain what had happened before he, Luke and Maddie set off to spend time at Evonne’s bedside, any thoughts of Christmas dinner and festive touches well behind them.

The hospice nurses, catering team and volunteers had different ideas…

“As soon as we arrived we were led to the family room where to our utter astonishment we found a beautifully laid table prepared for us by the staff complete with crackers and two bottles of wine,” said Robert. “We just couldn’t believe it!”

“All that trouble and effort, just for us and on Christmas Day of all days when I’m sure they should have been at home doing that for their own families.

“It was a wonderful Christmas lunch, something that wasn’t really meant to happen and yet it did. It gave us a cherished couple of hours, made all the more poignant by the fact that it proved to be Evonne’s last Christmas.”

This is the time of year when, with your help, we want to make that extra difference, create magical moments and forge lasting memories that will mean more to our patients and their loved ones that I could ever find the words to explain.

Special touches and making memories such as these are everyday occurrences here at the hospice but it’s at Christmas time when they matter so much more. Are you able support other families just like Robert and Evonne’s this Christmas?

Whatever you feel able to do to help, on behalf of every member of the hospice team, and the families that will directly benefit from your kindness, thank you.

Debbie Evans

Ward Manager