A Staffordshire woman whose mum spent her final week receiving “amazing” care at St Giles Hospice is calling on people to support its summer raffle.

Sarah Bentley, aged 49, and her sister Becky Tolley, 47, have become dedicated fundraisers for the hospice to thank St Giles for supporting their family in times of need.

Sarah, from Burntwood, said: “St Giles is such a fantastic, amazing place. Even though we all felt the sadness of parting from mum, we were in a place filled with love and happiness. I’d urge everyone to support St Giles. You never know when you or your family are going to need it.”

Becky Tolley (left) and Sarah Bentley

The family first encountered St Giles in 2012 after Sarah’s father-in-law, Melvyn Bentley from Rushall, Walsall, died suddenly from a heart attack. Her daughter Eve struggled with the loss and received bereavement support from the hospice’s Phoenix service for children and young people.

In 2016, Eve took part in a charity trolley dash in Lichfield to support St Giles and the family organised the ‘Bentley Bash’ fundraising fun day at Chasetown Football Club in aid of the hospice, raising more than £1,000.

Later that year Sarah and Becky’s mother Olwyn Atkins, known as Ollie, from Bloxwich, was diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite treatment, the cancer spread and Ollie was admitted to St Giles Hospice in 2017, where she spent her final week receiving end of life care.

“We knew we were going to lose mum, but being at St Giles made it so much easier and more bearable,” Sarah said. “The staff really looked after us. My dad was struggling to accept that mum was dying but the staff spent so much time with him, making sure he was supported.

“Nothing prepared us for what St Giles was like. We didn’t really know what to expect but it just felt like such a safe haven filled with love and happiness.

“The staff were just amazing. My mum’s first great-grandson was just a month old but they let us take him in and lay him on the bed with her. It was just priceless.”

Sarah added that her family had been touched by the kindness of St Giles staff once more in 2020 when her husband Darren’s uncle, Keith ‘Spike’ Bentley from Rushall, was receiving end of life care in hospital.

“He wanted to go outside for one last time but it just wasn’t possible at the hospital,” Sarah said. “He was later transferred to St Giles, although he only spent an hour there before he died. But in that time they put him in a bed and wheeled him outside so he could feel the sun on his face and feel the breeze for the last time with his two daughters.

“To me, that sums up St Giles – they made him feel as comfortable as possible and listened to what mattered to him. He was able to die content and with dignity. That one hour meant everything to his daughters, and that is why I’d urge people to support St Giles through the summer raffle. Every pound could make a difference to a local family like ours.”

Tickets for the hospice summer raffle are now on sale at £1 each and prizes up for grabs include a jackpot of £8,000, a second prize of £2,000 and other cash prizes.

Elinor Eustace, Income Generation Director at St Giles Hospice, said: “Playing our summer raffle is an easy way to support St Giles while also having a bit of fun, with the chance to win some fabulous cash prizes which could really brighten up your summer.

“Everyone’s financial situation is challenging this year and St Giles is no exception – which is why we are so grateful to our community for continuing to support us.

“Each ticket sold will help us to continue to be there for local people like Olwyn, Sarah and their family when they need us most. The money raised through our raffles makes such a difference to the care we can provide.

“Our raffle tickets are now on sale and we’d like to say a heartfelt thank you and good luck to everybody who takes part.”

Anyone wanting to enter the draw can find out more or buy raffle tickets online until midnight on Thursday, 30th June at www.stgileshospice.com/raffle or by calling the Lottery Office on 01543 434020. There are 20 extra prizes of £20 M&S gift cards up for grabs in an early reply draw for anyone who responds by Friday, 22nd April. The raffle draw will be made on Wednesday, 13th July 2022.