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Ashgate Hospice > The Ashgate Hospice nurse caring for patients on Christmas Day: ‘It’s important we do what we can, so families have something to hold on to’

This year, Sophie Peach will give up Christmas with her family to care for those with a life-limiting illness. 

The 27-year-old is a Specialist Palliative Care Nurse at Ashgate Hospice and cares for patients and their families in their own homes who are living with a palliative or end of life condition. 

Alongside colleague and fellow nurse Helen Harrison, the pair will be based at Ashgate’s Old Brampton site in Chesterfield to field calls through the hospice’s Advice Line between 9am and 5pm, offering a vital lifeline to families in crisis.  

Sophie will be on hand to provide specialist advice as well as practical and emotional support to help patients manage complex symptoms during a difficult time.  

Despite not being able to celebrate with her family on Christmas Day, she says she is proud to be able support families on what could be their last Christmas together. 

“Sadly, for a lot of our patients, this may be their last Christmas,” said Sophie. “I can’t possibly imagine how that must feel for them and their loved ones.  

“For some families we support, Christmas is full of festivities, laughter and fun, but we see the other side too, which always puts everything into perspective. 

Photo credit: Ellie Rhodes

“Throughout the day I’ll experience the sadness and pain of people who just can’t get into the Christmas spirit because of what they’re going through. Sometimes it is simply about getting through the day, which is so important for us to acknowledge. 

“I’m really proud that regardless of what time of year it is the hospice is still there for people going through the worst possible time.  

“Whether it’s someone to cry to and let it all out, for advice on medication or even a Christmas Carol singalong down the phone – I will be there to support the families who need us in whatever way I can.” 

Sophie’s role sees her visit patients in their own homes and regularly experiences ‘tears, devastation and heartache’ but also vast amounts of ‘love, laughter and life’. 

She has been caring for patients and families at Ashgate for four years now, after completing a nursing degree which inspired her passion for palliative care. 

Photo credit: Ellie Rhodes

Sophie will approach this festive season with the experience of caring for patients on Christmas Day several years back.  

She says being able to create special, everlasting memories for patients and their families is her favourite thing about being a nurse. 

“It is important that we go above and beyond to help people make memories every day, but particularly at this time of year,” added Sophie.  

“Christmas is a time for family, love and thanksgiving, but I think in situations like this it can sometimes bring home all of the worries of the future and the things you’re going to miss or never be able to have. 

“The last time I worked on Christmas Day was a couple of years ago, the team really pulled together, and we had a lovely day and so did our patients! It felt special and festive, despite the situation that our patients were in.  

“Christmas really makes you appreciate what you have, and I am privileged to witness patients celebrating and laughing with loved ones despite all their heartaches and issues. 

“It is just a very emotional time, so it’s important that we do what we can to make sure people have something to hold on to and remember forever.” 


Photo credit: Ellie Rhodes

Sophie will celebrate the festivities with her family on Boxing Day, but she admits she is more than happy to wait – after being inspired by someone she cared for. 

Sophie says: “I have learnt from others that Christmas can be just as fabulous whatever time of year it is. My favourite memory was the lady who chose to bring hers forward and have it in September as she was so poorly.  

“Her family pulled together and were so strong throughout and it was a special time and a privilege to be part of. We even managed to control her nausea and vomiting so that she managed a small amount of her Christmas dinner – this meant the world to her.  

“They made some fabulous memories and took some beautiful photos to cherish forever. I still think about her and how brave they all were to this day.” 

Right now, Ashgate Hospice is calling for the urgent support of the community as the charity prepares for another difficult winter due to the pressures of COVID-19 and the winter flu.  

The hospice is asking the community to support its Winter Appeal and help it to get through another difficult winter – ensuring the hospice, and nurses like Sophie, can continue to provide compassionate end of life care at a crucial time. 

To support Ashgate Hospice’s Winter Appeal click here.