Christmas is a time for family and friends to be together, sharing in the magic of the festive period.
Every Christmas, St Elizabeth Hospice provides vital care to over 1,190 patients and their families living with progressive and life-limiting illnesses across East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney, helping these families spend precious time with their loved ones when it matters most.
In 2023, once again, the independent Suffolk charity is hosting its annual Christmas appeal, Be a Star, which encourages the community to support the hospice during this very special time of year.
From purchasing items such as Christmas cards, from St Elizabeth Hospice shops or online store, to taking part in the fundraising Christmas Day Dip and Santa Dash or volunteering time to help the hospice.
There are a number of ways to take part in the Be a Star appeal which in 2022 raised over £128,000 for the hospice, a figure the charity is keen to exceed this year in order to help even more people, under its care, enjoy the Christmas they deserve.
One person who is familiar to the support given by St Elizabeth Hospice at Christmas, is Linda Hunt, whose husband John received support from St Elizabeth Hospice until his death, aged 73-years-old, on Christmas Day 2022.
“The St Elizabeth Hospice staff made a difficult situation a little bit better. From the cleaners and receptionists, through to the volunteers and nurses, they all have a special way about them which brings comfort and reassurance,” explained Linda.
“John was diagnosed with esophagus cancer in June 2022 and underwent chemotherapy treatment. It really wiped him off his feet and when he was told his cancer was incurable, John decided he no longer wanted to receive chemotherapy.
“He always said he wanted to be under care of St Elizabeth Hospice when his time came and our family have been hospice supporters for many years, as they gave brilliant care to my sister and to a number of our friends.”
A familiar face, in the Ipswich area, John lived in Kesgrave with Linda and had been a builder ever since he left school, building every house the couple lived in. The couple grew up in Wickham Market and Woodbridge and had two sons, one daughter as well as seven grandchildren, ranging in age from nine months to 24-years-old.
John came under the care of St Elizabeth Hospice inpatient unit team on 13th December 2022, after he had previously received support at his home from the hospice’s community team nurses.
“John was my soulmate and, as he became more poorly, we wanted to make his last wish come true and the nurses made this possible within a few days, with John moving on to the hospice’s inpatient unit,” said Linda.
“From the moment we walked into the hospice, they made us feel at ease and John was a lot more comfortable.
“John always loved Christmas time spent with his family and our last Christmas together, at the hospice, was no different. We shared many jokes and smiles, cherishing our precious time together.
“It really was a home from home, as the staff and volunteers decorated the ward, making it feel Christmassy – full of carols, laughter and love.
“I stayed over at the hospice every night so I could be with John and all our family were able to regularly visit. It was our choice to be there over Christmas and we do not regret it.
“Unfortunately, on Christmas Eve, John become more poorly but the staff were like family members to us and were so kind. When John died on Christmas Day, there was no rushing and the nurses let us spend as much time with John as we needed.
“St Elizabeth Hospice’s care is not just for the patient but for the whole family and I can never thank all the hospice staff for what they did for my husband, myself and my family.
“They made it possible for us to be together as a family during the lead up to the Christmas period, which was so vital, especially as Christmas is a time for people to come together with loved ones.
“Our granddaughter Blu (who was four-years-old at the time), would sit on John’s bed at the hospice, which meant so much to us all, and one day after he’d passed away, she said ‘I wish I could be a star Grandad, so I could see you in heaven’.
“St Elizabeth Hospice touched our family in so many ways with their compassionate care and warmth, helping make our last Christmas with John very special.
“By supporting St Elizabeth Hospice and its Be a Star appeal, you will be helping the charity care for patients and families, throughout your local community, helping them share precious moments together during this special time of year.”
To support St Elizabeth Hospice’s Be a Star appeal visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/be-a-star/