Light Up A Life #CharityTuesday

Today’s #CharityTuesday post is on behalf of St Helena Hospice in Colchester. Like all hospices they do amazing work and if you aren’t local to Colchester I would urge you to look up your local hospice as I would expect that they will be doing something similar and would greatly appreciate your donation or time.

I sponsored a light for Light Up A Life a few Christmasses ago in memory of my Nan and think that it can make a lovely gift as well as being a really nice way to remember someone that you’ve lost. Read more about the Hospice and Light Up A Life here….

St Helena Hospice Light up a Life

As Christmas grows closer, here at St Helena Hospice, we understand how it can be a difficult time if you’re missing someone you love.

As it’s nearing that time again, I thought it might be good to tell Jayne’s story. Christmas is a particularly poignant time for Jayne, as her husband, Brian, died in the Hospice just after Christmas 2009. She tells us how the Hospice helped them through this difficult time.

Brian, was diagnosed with the rare condition Paraganglioma in January 2005, and was told that he had multiple tumours and the specialists were unable to give him a prognosis, such was the rarity of the disease. After two major operations and radiotherapy, Brian lived life to the full with Jayne and their three boys Will, Callum and Robert (now aged 18, 15 and 12).

Jayne said about Brian “He was, of course, much more than someone with an extremely rare genetic cancer, although in a way it’s typical of him to stand out by having something quite so unique! He was passionate about music, sport, social justice and of course his family. Brian was one of those quiet understated blokes who didn’t always feel the need to push himself forward, but he commanded great respect and loyalty. In turn he was tenacious in everything he believed in, including living”.

“He enjoyed 18 months of being really fit, but then unfortunately another tumour was diagnosed in a really difficult to reach area of his neck. He knew that the operation to remove the tumour had to be done and that a nerve would have to be cut to remove it, paralysing his right hand in the process and affecting his vocal chords.”

The next blow came in the June of 2009, when Brian and Jayne were told that another tumour had been found which was not operable, and Brian would be receiving palliative care from now on. It was at this point that St Helena Hospice came into their lives.

To begin with, the Hospice arranged for a Hospice Nurse Specialist to come and see them at their home in Nayland and then through Brian’s remaining time and even after his death, the Hospice continued to be in the family’s life.

The Hospice offered support on many different levels, including counselling, Day Centre visits and complementary therapies.“But,” said Jayne ”we were then told the shocking news at the beginning of December that Brian only had a matter of weeks to live.

Brian was then offered a bed in the Inpatient Unit. Throughout his time with them, the staff continued to come up trumps realising, for example, that because of the boys, Brian needed a bigger room, which they quickly arranged. The boys were made to feel at home, and friends and family were able to pop in and visit Brian at any time.

As Christmas Day grew closer, Brian was optimistic that he would make it home for Christmas. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. He was spending more and more time sleeping and it became obvious that he would not be able to leave the Inpatient Unit.

Instead making Jayne feel ‘at home’ with Brian in his room was a priority to the staff. “Christmas Eve was the last day Brian spoke, before slipping into a coma. He died on 2 January 2010. All of the Hospice staff and volunteers were brilliant throughout, showing great care and respect for Brian and I. There was lots of laughter mixed in with that care. I have an amazing amount of respect for all of them. Nothing was ever too much trouble” said Jayne.

Typically, the Hospice did everything possible to support Brian, Jayne and their boys. For Brian, Jayne, Will, Callum and Robert, the Hospice became a big part of their lives. So much so, that in October last year, just two days after his 18th birthday, Will ran the Dublin Marathon for the Hospice in memory of his father.

The Hospice brought hope and light into their lives at a very dark time. Jayne said simply: “The Hospice took the stress and the anxiety away; it made living with dying, whilst obviously painful, a nevertheless positive experience for which I will always be grateful”.

The St Helena Hospice Christmas Light up a Life appeal is one that gives you a chance to take stock and think about that special person. They might be a family member, friend, or a loved one. Whoever they may be, we are inviting you to make a dedication to this special person.

We would also like to invite you to one of our Light up a Life events held in various parts of North East and Mid Essex. These short services incorporate traditional carols and readings, and in some locations a tree will be lit as part of the event.

You can get hold of a Light up a Life flyer in any of our shops, or you can make a dedication by calling the Fundraising Office on 01206 791740 or by going to our website:

2011 Light up a Life Events in the North and Mid Essex region

Friday 2nd December

Brightlingsea – 7.00pm, St James Church, High Street.

Friday 9th December

Harwich – 6.30pm, St Nicholas Church, Church Street.

Friday 9th December

Halstead – 6.30pmm, St Andrew’s Church, Parsonage Street.

Sunday 11th December

Colchester – 4.30pm, Colchester Castle.

Monday 12th December

Walton – 6.30pm, All Saints Church, West Street.

Tuesday 13th December

Mersea – 6.30pm, St Peter and St Paul Church, High Street.

Wednesday 14th December

Belchamp St Paul – 6.30pm, Hole Farm.

Thursday 15th December

Tollesbury – 7.00pm, St Mary’s Church, Tollesbury.

Sunday 18th December

Clacton – 4.00pm, Clacton Pier.

Tuesday 20th December

Colchester – 6.30pm, St Helena Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close.