Hospice Community Heroes: fabulous face masks, flower power and miles that matter

We’ve always been astounded by the incredible kindness and generosity of the St Peter & St James Hospice community, but this year – more than ever – has highlighted just how compassionate and generous people can be.

In honour of our lovely supporters across Sussex and beyond, we’re publishing a monthly round-up celebrating some of our hospice community heroes: a snapshot of just a few of the brilliant people making our work possible. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to everybody featured below, as well as to the hundreds of others who stand with with us in being there for local families living with terminal illness.

We met the amazing Zoe Taylor and her family recently. Zoe’s adored Granddad, Bill, was cared for by our community team for 18 months before spending his final days on the inpatient ward. The family say they are ‘blown away’ by the care Bill received, as well as the support given to them through complementary therapy and counselling. When it became clear there was a demand for face masks, the ladies spotted a unique fundraising opportunity. Bill’s wife, Margaret, was in possession of an industrial size sewing machine, and Zoe – keen to get involved and learn a new skill – used some money left to her by her Granddad to purchase her own sewing machine. With other close relatives, Sharon, Wendy and Lorraine joining the venture, the family began making face masks out of Bill’s old shirts. Their story has inspired generous support from their local community – they have since raised over £5000 and are showing no sign of stopping! What a beautiful tribute to an incredibly loved man. Face-mask fundraising doesn’t stop there, either. Our wonderful friends at Sarah Lacey Dry Cleaning  have also been hard at work selling masks to their customers. Their kindness has raised over £3000 so far.

Daphne Wheeler has been a long-term supporter of St Peter & St James Hospice. Over the years, she’s handmade hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful, crazy, knitted creations to sell at our events. Due to Covid-19, our events calendar has been sadly quiet this year, but non-deterred, Daphne arranged to sell the knitted dolls at Lewes Tourist Information Centre. Displayed in the window, the colourful dolls have been a huge hit with passers-by… Daphne’s latest animals have raised just over £500!

Amelia and Joe Mckenzie were due to get married on 11th April, but their special day was delayed until 25th July. Eager for their flowers not to go to waste, the couple kindly had them sprayed to make them long-lasting, and gifted them to us. Beautiful flowers not only give our staff and volunteers a boost, but they also help to create a home from home for those we are caring for. We’re so grateful to Amelia and Joe for this touching gesture and wish them a lifetime of happiness together.

Finally for this month, we must mention the Virtual London Marathon, which took place across the country yesterday. We were lucky enough to have 16 incredible runners taking on the challenge for us, who – between them – have contributed to an astounding £19,176 so far. Our determined team, some of whom had never run more than 10km in one go, laced up their trainers and braved the relentless rain to finish 26.2 gruelling miles: all to provide hospice care to local families. We’re absolutely blown away by their efforts.