I have commented previously about the way in which staff and volunteers take every opportunity to enrich and enliven the time we spend in the Hospice. In this entry I would like to give some examples of just what I mean. I am sure that the list is not complete because I must have forgotten some of the occasions, but the ones I can recall will give you some idea of the interesting and varied things we get up to.
Celebration of royal events must come high on the list. Whilst I have been attending the Day Hospice there has been the wedding of William and Kate and then there have been the celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee this year. We were all encouraged to come along sporting our red, white and blue, and there was a special buffet lunch for us to enjoy on the day of the royal wedding. Lots of photographs were taken some even appeared in the press, which was really good publicity for the Hospice.
The jubilee celebrations entailed a lot more preparation in the preceding months under the guidance and encouragement of our creative therapists, Helen and Jeanette. Many of us were hard at work creating lengths of bunting in a variety of colours to emphasise the Queen’s role as head of the Commonwealth, but red, white and blue were certainly included. A collage of photographs of the Queen over the years was created and mounted in a specially crafted frame. Other Day Hospice patients made a model of the grand royal flotilla proceeding down the Thames, which was really excellent.
The Day Hospice really looked a splendid place as we had our special celebratory lunch. Again it was a chance for us to dress up in patriotic colours and have more photo opportunities.
It is not just royalty who provide the chance to celebrate. Whenever one of us has a birthday on or around our Tuesday visits, there will be a specially made birthday cake – with candles naturally I It would be a bit much for most of us to expect one for each year so a few suffice whilst we sing “Happy Birthday”. Birthdays also provide an opportunity for the more gifted among us to design and make a suitable birthday card for us all to sign, which gives quite a special memento for the person to take home. Then there are the special times of the year which give openings for more creative work. Easter is one obvious example allowing the preparation of cards and displays. I even managed to create at least some of a fluffy white sheep, which is a tribute to the encouragement and patience of our creative therapists as well as to their willingness to finish things off when the going got tough.
Christmas time provides a real chance to celebrate. Once more there is plenty of preparatory work in the weeks beforehand as folks create cards and decorations, as well as items to sell at the Christmas fayre. This is around the middle of November and raises funds for the work of the Hospice. People do manage to make some lovely items, very suitable for Christmas gifts. Of course, in addition to the things which are made by people there are many items which are donated for sale. This year’s Christmas fayre takes place on Saturday 17 November between 10am and 1pm at the Hospice in Telford.
Nearer to Christmas Day comes the Christmas lunch, which provides the usual excellent food with a traditional Christmas menu for those who wish it. It is different from other lunches during the year because the volunteers join with all of us patients to eat together. Normally the volunteers do the serving of the lunch but at Christmas this task is undertaken by the nurses and Hospice staff. It is great to see the volunteers receive this special tribute to their work during the year. It also provides us with a chance to engage in some gentle leg-pulling of the nursing staff in particular!
After lunch, all of the kitchen staff come to meet us, which allows us to provide our very real appreciation of their wonderful efforts during the year. Finally, Christmas would not be complete without a visit from Santa Claus. We are individually given a gift my only disappointment came when I was not allowed to sit on his knee! But of course such a thing would not be allowed these days and there is probably a health and safety issue given my weight!
I have previously commented on our musical visitors, but there have been all sorts of other visitors come and see us at the Day Hospice. One day when I had been playing some music in church I arrived before lunch to find the room seemingly filled with people with walking sticks. These had all been made under the guidance of a visitor who had provided the necessary bits and pieces and encouraged folks to make their own.
Then we have had a fascinating slide show and talk on garden birds. Also two ladies came to talk about overseas aid and to explain just what happened to all those blanket squares which had been knitted by folks at the Day Hospice. Another visitor came along to talk about dolls and to show us just some of her doll collection, mainly made by herself.
Shropshire library services have brought along mobile exhibitions, one of which featured folklore of some West Midland counties.
Our most recent visitor took part in the Olympic torch relay as it passed through Much Wenlock. He brought along his torch to the Day Hospice and talked to us about his experiences. We were all privileged to handle the torch and have our picture taken with it.
So there hardly seems to be a dull moment at the Day Hospice: long may it continue!