Hospice Community Heroes: marathon magic, the power of painting and hair for care

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.

You may have seen Emily Krombas in the local papers back in April, as she embarked on a marathon in her back garden (that was 917 laps, by the way!). Before lockdown, Emily had signed up to complete an astounding 13 marathons in 13 months in memory of her friend, Heidi. With the official marathons cancelled, Emily initially decided to postpone the challenge, however seeing our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal inspired her to get creative ‘to ensure there was still a hospice to run for once the pandemic was over!’ Emily has been putting in miles that matter across the streets of Sussex, including running a midnight marathon, and completing one at our very own Woodland Walk. So far, Emily has raised over £9000, and with eight still to go, her efforts will help keep our services running for some time yet! We’ll keep you posted on her ventures in future round ups. You can show your support for her here.

Annabel Bridger, based in Haywards Heath, recently hosted a fundraising afternoon tea for her family and friends at home. At the event she exhibited and sold her beautiful artwork, much of which takes inspiration from nature and the local area, for donations to the hospice which have exceeded £500! Not only are we blown away by Annabel’s wonderful creative talent, but also by her generosity in using it to contribute towards vital care.

Alison Brown, 84, has been an enormous help to us over the past few months, kindly selling plants, homemade cakes and pickles at the end of her driveway, and donating the proceeds to us. Alison’s plants and treats have been a huge hit with her neighbours – she’s raised an amazing £1040 so far!

Remember the heatwave in August? While many of us hid behind fans or lounged on the beach with an ice cream, the unstoppable Adrian Elkin was out cycling 100 miles on the South Downs Way to raise money for us. He chose to support St Peter & St James Hospice following the death of his beloved friend, Dave,  who came to us for end of life care last year. Whilst staying with us, Dave referred to the hospice as ‘The Sanctuary’, a sentiment that inspired Adrian to give back and say thanks. The £3241 he’s raised has helped to keep our wheels turning! Adrian is pictured with Dave’s wife, Sharon, who said hearing of the fundraising challenge had lifted her spirits on the anniversary of her husband’s death.

The lovely Charlotte recently cut her long locks to help the hospice. She very kindly chose to support us because we looked after her adored Grandad and Uncle Gareth when they were poorly. Charlotte had 12 inches chopped from her hair and collected sponsorship from her proud family and friends. Her makeover has raised a fantastic £318.75! As well as raising money for the hospice, Charlotte’s actual hair has been donated to the Little Princess Trust, to be made into wigs for children who have lost their hair due through cancer treatment and other conditions. We’re hugely inspired by Charlotte’s selflessness – what an amazing example to her peers she is!

Finally for this month’s round up, we’d like to say a special thank you to our local village store, on Wivelsfield Green. The team there have been an enormous help to our kitchen over the past few months, sending us daily bread and milk, as well as top-ups on other food supplies. There were days, particularly during the height of the pandemic, when we simply would not have got by without them.