During the last three years many Suffolk families have made a poignant tribute to a loved one through St Elizabeth Hospice’s Material Memories.
Created by Sue Marshall, of Made With Love, Material Memories are handcrafted keepsake bears made from the clothes of loved ones. All the bears are fully lined and hand stitched and can be made from almost any material, with Sue using her sewing talent to create a unique bear that is personal and serves as special reminder of loved ones no longer with us.
Sitting on her sofa in her home, ‘Monty the Bear’, is a much-loved, friendly face to all who visit Yvonne Williams’ home in Suffolk.
“Monty has become a part of the house. He just has such a lovely, happy face and I often say ‘hello’ to him as I am going about the house,” explains Yvonne.
“Monty is my very special memory of my dad, who was a very special man and each day Monty helps keeps Dad’s memory alive. Dad had such a lovely smile and it’s good to see Monty smiling back at me! He is especially important to me this year on 3rd July as it would have been Dad’s 100th birthday.”
Named after her dad, Leslie’s middle name, Monty is made from several keepsake items from throughout Yvonne’s life which remind her of her dad. From a dress she wore as a little girl, which forms a heart on Monty’s paw, through to the shirt her dad wore on her wedding day, when he walked Yvonne down the aisle, Monty is crafted with memories of Leslie that Yvonne and her family hold dearly.
She said: “Monty was made with love and Sue was absolutely amazing in creating him. I arrived with a bag full of personal items and Sue knew straight away how she could make something special, which she really did achieve.
“Thanks to Sue I can treasure Monty forever and hand him down our family to keep Dad’s memory alive. Material Memories also helps keep our strong family connection to the hospice, which is important to me, as St Elizabeth Hospice provided such brilliant care to Dad.”
A familiar face to many in the Ipswich area, Leslie was a skilled carpenter and builder who was born and bred in Suffolk. He enjoyed being together with the whole family for special occasions and was very proud all his grandchildren. He came under the care of the hospice in 1998, shortly after his retirement, when he was diagnosed with incurable pancreatic cancer.
However, through the support of St Elizabeth Hospice he was able to fulfil his ambition to walk Yvonne down the aisle at her wedding later that summer, before he passed away aged 77-years-old just three months later.
“Thank goodness for St. Elizabeth Hospice, Dad spent some weeks in the hospice to stabilise his sickness and provide the correct pain relief,” added Yvonne.
“Due to their excellent care and medical expertise he was able to leave the hospice and spend the next few months at home with Mum.
“The support he received gave reassurance both to him and our whole family, while also making him comfortable and providing him with dignity.
“It was a difficult and sad time, but we also had some of the happiest times with Dad at the hospice. All the nurses and volunteers greeted you with a smile and were more than happy to talk and listen, while spending time with Dad in the hospice garden and café meant we were able to create happy memories which would never have been possible without St Elizabeth Hospice.
“Since then I have always been keen to give back to the hospice, by donating to their shops, volunteering or fundraising at events. It’s such a vital service which has touched the lives of so many in the local community, providing support when it is needed most.
“I am so grateful to the hospice and never tire of telling people of the care they gave my family. Material Memories is another way I have been able to support the charity while also providing my family with a lovely reminder of Dad. Monty is not a sad teddy, he’s a wonderfully, happy bear filled with memories of Dad and that special day in 1998.”
To find out more about St Elizabeth Hospice’s Material Memories visit here.