Hospice Community Heroes: delicious food, music magic, and birthday benevolence

We’re always incredibly moved by the kindness of the wonderful community surrounding St Peter & St James Hospice, but in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic: the most challenging time in our hospice’s history, we’re particularly overwhelmed by the outpouring of compassion and generosity you have shown us.

In honour of our lovely supporters across Sussex and beyond, we’ll be publishing a weekly round-up celebrating some of our hospice community heroes: a snapshot of just a few of the brilliant people who are helping us through this extraordinary time. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everybody featured below, as well as to the hundreds of others who are standing with us at this time.

In the words of Virginia Woolf: ‘one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.’ We’re passionate about good food. We have a very talented, dedicated team of kitchen staff who pride themselves on rustling up delicious, nutritious meals for those staying on our ward, offering a diverse weekly menu, and responding to any special requests. Unfortunately, in recent weeks, it’s become increasingly difficult to secure a regular weekly food delivery from a local supermarket, however, thankfully, local people have stepped in to help. Ian Braid, a resident of Church Lane in Wivelsfield, kindly reached out to us to find out how he and his neighbours could help. Ian and the other generous residents of Church Lane raided their cupboards to stock ours, collectively donating tinned soups, rice, flour, cereal, eggs and other kitchen essentials. Our local village store, on Wivelsfield Green, has also been a huge help through this period, sending us daily bread and milk. Long may cosy, comforting cuppas continue.

You will have heard lots of conversations and reporting on PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in the media. Though our needs can change very quickly on a daily basis, we have sufficient stock at the moment. This wouldn’t be the case without our local MPs working on our behalf to ensure we weren’t forgotten, nor a very generous response from Edwards Ltd, a leading developer and manufacturer of sophisticated vacuum products, based in Burgess Hill. Recognising we were in need, the team built a number of face visors and N95 face-masks to be worn as protective gear, which will help to keep our nursing staff as safe as possible as they continue to deliver expert and compassionate care on the ward.

Local band, The 100 Monkeys, known for their groove-driven music and classy covers, have combined their creativity and passion with a desire to help not only us at the hospice, but the wonderful Haywards Heath Food Bank, too. The talented five-piece are keeping themselves and their social media followers entertained by setting regularly increased fundraising targets, rewarding their fans with ‘lockdown live‘ acoustic versions of their songs once these targets are hit. So far, the harmony between the band and their fanbase has raised over £600 to be split between our charities – this is music to our ears!

As well as providing a stage for big-hearted bands, Facebook has made it very easy for people to fundraise in lieu of birthday presents. We’ve been on the receiving end of lots of birthday benevolence in recent weeks. For many people, lockdown birthdays are likely to feel very strange, so we’re particularly touched by these gestures. Just some of these Facebook fundraisers have been set up by Mimi Barker, Kerry Bagshaw, Ashley Palmer and Karen Bloomer, who have raised over £900 collectively! What a touching way to celebrate.

Finally for this week, we must mention the hundreds of people who have donated to our emergency appeal so far, whether through our social media plea, email, or a letter you may have received in the post. Your gifts remind us we are not alone and give us hope that we will come through this Covid-19 crisis, and your incredibly powerful, reassuring messages keep us going on difficult days.