Willen Hospice Christmas Appeal
Christmas is a very special time, but for many of the people we support, the festive period can feel very different.
All year round we provide specialist care for patients, free of charge. But to do this, we need to raise £4.7 million a year. While our care is unwavering 365 days a year, what we do for local families is perhaps more poignant at Christmas.
We'd love you to hear Georgia's story. She is supporting our Christmas Appeal by telling us about the compassionate care she and her family received last year. Watch the video and read her heartfelt account below...
One year ago I had never visited a hospice; I was scared of these places, I thought they were morbid and sad… but now Willen Hospice has become my safe place, my sanctuary, and a place filled with love and memories. On 19 December 2018, my Dad - Jim Richardson, sadly lost his battle with cancer and passed away at Willen Hospice, surrounded by love from his family and all of the wonderful nurses who had looked after him.
My Dad was first diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in December 2014, right before Christmas. At this point we had no idea how long he would have to live; would this be our last family Christmas? We were overwhelmed with emotion…
Christmas is meant to be family time, filled with happiness and laughter, but that year it was filled with worry and sadness. Happy family Christmas adverts felt physically painful, leaving us wondering if next year our family wouldn’t be complete.
My Dad underwent major surgery and endured nine months of chemotherapy before getting the ‘all-clear’ in November 2015. However, in February 2018 we were told Dad wouldn’t have many months to live. In September 2018, the palliative care team admitted my Dad to Willen and I felt as though my world was falling apart. I was terrified to visit my Dad in a hospice, and I didn’t want him to stay there; but as I walked through the entrance door, I was overwhelmed by the level of love, support and care not only given to my Dad, but to my whole family. The nurses and doctors were able to get on top of the pain that had been crippling him for weeks.
The volunteers stopped by with smiles on their faces delivering tea and coffee, and the nurses took the time to put me at ease, explaining what medication they were administering and the effect it would have. The lake views were like a tonic for Dad, and only days later he was discharged with a pain management plan. Unfortunately, Dad’s health deteriorated quickly and he was admitted back into Willen. The nurses remembered us and made me feel safe and never alone.
On 15 December 2018, we were told he wouldn’t have long to live. On 16 December, the Willen Hospice ‘Santa Dash’ took place. My Dad, a keen runner, would have loved to take part, but the nurses made sure he still felt involved, wheeling him out in a wheelchair onto the balcony overlooking the lake, where he watched me cross the line first! The pride on his face was the best Christmas present I’ve ever been given.
My Dad unfortunately passed away three days later, on 19 December 2018. As my world seemed to crumble around me, the Willen staff were simply incredible.
I have never felt so loved, safe and cared for. I can never repay the gift those nurses gave my family - the support at our most vulnerable time.
Willen’s love and support did not end there. I regularly visit the nurses and have a ‘natter’, and the young people’s bereavement service have provided me with regular counselling and support to help come to terms with the loss of my Dad.
One thing I have learnt is that Christmas is just a day, and the best present in the world is not wrapped up in a parcel, it’s the love and memories shared together, and what you can give to those in need. The nurses, who give up the Christmas period away from their own families to support others, are simply amazing.
If Georgia's story has inspired you to donate, you can do so below.
Or please text GEORGIA to 70140 to donate £10 and support Willen Hospice this Christmas.
Willen Hospice receives 100% of every donation. Please make sure you have the bill payer’s permission. (For questions about text donations please call 01908 303076)
Thank you for your support