A woman whose mum was able to spend her final days at home with her family, supported by St Giles Hospice, is calling on people to take part in Celebrate Lives Lived this spring.
Veterinary nurse Lucy Gunn and her dad Peter have joined the hospice’s annual celebration, which remembers lost loved ones, each May since Lucy’s mum Nancy Gunn died in 2019.
Every year St Giles invites people to dedicate an orange Gerbera peg in one of its gardens in Whittington and Sutton Coldfield between 1st-31st May, as well as a virtual garden on the hospice’s website, in return for a donation.
Funds raised from Celebrate Lives Lived dedications help to fund the hospice’s work caring for patients and their families living with a terminal illness.
Lucy said: “I’ll always support St Giles Hospice following the care my mum received, and memorial events like Celebrate Lives Lived are so important. They help to keep the memory and spirit of your loved ones alive.
“The Celebrate Lives Lived garden at Whittington is beautiful, so peaceful and quiet, and seeing all the colourful Gerbera pegs with the names of our loved ones on them is so comforting.
“St Giles understands that death is not the end of the story – our loved ones lived, were loved and they meant so much to so many people. Remembering loved ones through events like Celebrate Lives Lived means a lot to us and we mark the occasion on our calendar every year.”
Lucy, from Tamworth, who now lives in Hinckley with her partner Tom, and 10-year-old son Keir, said that her mum was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2017 and always wished to die in her own Tamworth home, if it was possible.
“The day mum was diagnosed as being terminally ill was really the first time I heard about hospice care and St Giles Hospice,” she added. “It was very important to mum that she could stay at home and when they told us it was an option it made such a difference. We had hospice nurses coming in twice a day – as soon as we opened the door to the nurses the darkness lifted; they were there for us just when we needed them most.
“Having the care of St Giles Hospice was such a help and such a relief to us all. My dad and I couldn’t cope on our own but the nurses came in and they did everything they could to help. They would never do anything without talking to mum first and letting her know, whether she was able to respond or not.
“As well as ensuring mum received the medical care she needed, the nurses also helped to put on face cream, do her hair and asked whether she wanted any perfume on. It all seems like very little things, but they were treating mum as an individual and they gave her what she wanted.”
Lucy said that her son, Keir, was very close to her mum and the hospice helped him through his grief thanks to Phoenix, its dedicated bereavement support service for children and young people. “To have that support for Keir was such a relief and comfort to us as a family,” she added.
It costs St Giles Hospice more than £10 million each year to deliver the care it provides at its Inpatient Unit, out in the community and in patients’ own homes – and every Celebrate Lives Lived dedication helps to support families like Lucy’s.
Each Gerbera is a colourful handwritten peg, personalised with the name of your loved one. They are placed in a Celebrate Lives Lived garden throughout May, creating a display of celebration and remembrance amongst hundreds of other Gerberas.
Sally Redmond, In Memory Manager at St Giles Hospice, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to invite people like Lucy, Peter and Keir to dedicate an orange Gerbera peg in one of our Celebrate Lives Lived gardens each year.
“The orange Gerbera is a symbol of joy, happiness and warmth – the perfect tribute to a loved one. You’ll find our Celebrate Lives Lived gardens at our hospice sites in Whittington and Sutton Coldfield and they are open to everyone who wants to remember a loved one, not just those families cared for by St Giles Hospice.
“Throughout May, you’re invited to visit the gardens to see your Gerbera peg and take a moment to reflect on the lives of loved ones you hold dearest. Your dedication will also be included in our beautiful virtual garden, where your Gerbera will feature all year round.
“At the end of May, we’ll let you know when you can collect your Gerbera peg to display in your home or garden.”