A grandmother whose husband was able to enjoy one last Christmas at home with his family thanks to St Giles Hospice is calling on people to support its festive raffle.

Gill Henley’s husband Charlie (aged 54) was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in October 2019 but was able to stay with his loved ones throughout the Christmas period with the help of his St Giles Hospice Community Nurse.

Gill said: “Thanks to our wonderful St Giles nurse, Shelly, we were able to spend our last Christmas together at home. Without her care and support I really don’t know how we would have coped.

Charlie standing by their Christmas tree in December 2019 and (right) Gill Henley with her husband Charlie.

“Even at Christmas St Giles were there for us day and night. It gave us such peace of mind and we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves knowing that we had their support to call on if we needed it.

“Shelly did everything she could to make Charlie as comfortable as possible and he was able to stand up with his frame and put Santa on top of the Christmas tree – a memory I’ll always cherish.

“We celebrated Christmas Day at home surrounded by our close family, and Charlie felt well enough that we could bring Christmas forward to celebrate with the rest of his family a few days before too – he was really able to enjoy it and to take part.”

Charlie was admitted to St Giles Hospice in January 2020 for pain management and after six days he felt well enough to go home to Swadlincote. However, he was readmitted a few weeks later when his condition took a turn for the worse and five days later he died in Gill’s arms at the Whittington hospice.

Gill, who previously lived in Branston and whose mother Audrey also died at St Giles in 1993, added: “People think that hospices are just places that you go to at the end of life, but St Giles really helped Charlie to be at home for as long as he could, and made him as comfortable as he could possibly be.

“They supported the whole family – our community nurse was our angel and the team at the hospice were fantastic. I hope people will support the hospice raffle if they can because St Giles Hospice has to be there for other local families like ours when they need it.”

It costs more than £10 million to provide the care St Giles offers every year and the hospice needs to raise more than £850,000 each month to keep services going, at a time when there has been a big increase in the number of people needing hospice care.

Tickets for the hospice Christmas raffle are now on sale at £1 each and goodies up for grabs include a first prize of £8,000 or a brand new Kia Picanto car from Burton Kia, £2,000 or a luxury holiday and other cash prizes.

St Giles Hospice Lottery Manager Alison Jerram said: “We’re asking our local community to really get behind our Christmas Raffle this year – the money it raises is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every £1 ticket sold helps us to continue supporting people in the local community who are living with a terminal illness, and we’ve never needed the support of our community more than we need it now.

“We’ve had to cancel many of our events in 2020 which has really affected our income, so every raffle ticket sold will help to ensure we can continue to care for local people when they need us in these uncertain times.

“The raffle is a great way for our supporters to have some fun – with the satisfaction of knowing that they are also helping to fund St Giles – and may win a fabulous cash prize or have a new car or holiday to look forward to in the New Year. There are also extra prizes up for grabs for people who buy their tickets early!”

Tickets are now on sale and anyone wanting to join the draw can find out more or buy raffle tickets online at www.stgileshospice.com/raffle or by calling the Raffle Team on 01543 434020. The raffle draw will be made on 20 January 2021.