A Burton mother-of-three is volunteering for St Giles Hospice to thank staff for the care her terminally ill mother-in-law received there.
Lucy Letts, from Stretton gives a day of her time every week to befriending and supporting patients in the St Giles day hospice in Whittington.
Her mother-in-law Betty Letts, who also lived in Stretton and died from ovarian cancer in December 2016 regularly attended the day hospice for 18 months before her condition worsened. She was admitted to the hospice as an in-patient a few days before her death.
Lucy, who is married to Betty’s son Wayne and has a son William, and daughters Ruby and Freya, also volunteers in the St Giles Hospice office for a few hours each Thursday to help the charity.
She said: “I love helping out at St Giles. They were so good to Betty and to all the family and it gives me a chance to give something back for all of the support they gave us at what was obviously a very upsetting time.
“I discussed the idea of volunteering here quite openly with Betty while she was alive and I know she would have been delighted to know I was doing it.”
Lucy and her family were deeply saddened by Betty’s death in 2016 but Lucy finally felt able to sign up as a volunteer at the start of this year.
“I decided I wanted a year out, as a hospice is a difficult place to come back to immediately following the loss of a loved one, but Betty enjoyed coming to the day hospice so much,” she explained. “It is so friendly and has such a good atmosphere and it seemed inevitable I would come back here to help out.”
After Christmas 2017 Lucy decided the time was right and now visits the day hospice each week to support the patients.
She said: “I make a lot of drinks and spend a lot of time sitting and chatting to people. They want to share their thoughts and really appreciate a friendly ear and because of my experience with Betty I know some of what they are going through.
“The day hospice was tremendous for Betty and for all of us. She felt safe and supported and when she came to spend time here it gave the rest of the family a break, a respite while we were caring for her.
“And when she had to come into the ward at the end of her life her time in the day hospice meant that it wasn’t a frightening journey into the unknown, it was a seamless transition and she received outstanding care – from home visits through to her trips to the day hospice and on to her final days as an in-patient. We can’t thank St Giles enough.”
Lucy added that she would encourage anybody with a bit of spare time to help St Giles. She said: “People hear the word hospice and they immediately think ‘end of life’ and become fearful.
“But St Giles is about so much more than that, caring for people at all different stages of illness as well as the wider community. So I would say don’t be scared, St Giles is about making a real difference to people’s lives – and here you can truly do that.”
“The doctor who looked after Betty while she died had a very natural way of talking about death – helping us to see that it was a part of life – which we found extremely comforting.”
To have an informal chat about volunteering at St Giles please contact Amy Moore, Volunteer Services Manager on 01543 434546 or visit www.stgileshospice.com/how-you-can-help-us/volunteer-for-us