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A volunteer whose beloved daughter and husband died at Ashgate Hospice is urging people to support Ashgate Hospice’s Christmas Appeal so other families can receive care this Christmas like hers did.
Lynne Walker started volunteering at the North Derbyshire hospice after the death of her husband, Michael, who received palliative and end of life care at home from Ashgate’s community nursing team.
Tragically, soon after Lynne began helping out at the Clearance Shop in Hasland, Chesterfield, her daughter Julie was then diagnosed with a brain tumour, aged just 46.
As Julie’s condition deteriorated, she was admitted to the hospice’s Inpatient Unit five years later for round-the-clock care, before she died in January 2015.
“I miss my girl every single day and never more so than at this time of year,” said Lynne, 79, from Great Longstone.
“But my recollection of that Christmas isn’t tainted with tears and sorrow, it’s bursting with treasured memories of a really special time spent laughing, hugging and feeling grateful to still be in each other’s lives.
“It’s hard to describe how much joy can come from a place dedicated to end of life care, but Julie enjoyed precious times during her stay at the hospice.
“She particularly loved spending time with her son, James and her husband, Chris, who visited every day. They’d sit and laugh as they enjoyed the hospice chef’s delicious home cooked meals in what felt like a home from home.”
The “extraordinary level of kindness, compassion and outstanding care” that Lynne and her family received has inspired her to support the hospice’s Christmas Appeal.
The campaign aims to raise funds so Ashgate can be there to provide vital care for people like Julie and Michael in the future.
Lynne says she’ll never forget the last Christmas morning she spent with her daughter, Julie, as the hospice’s staff went to “great lengths” to ensure it was one to remember.
She recalls: “As Christmas approached, we knew it would be our final one together. That made us all the more determined to make it special and Ashgate pulled out all the stops to help us.
“On the morning of Christmas Day, we were given the large Day Room and our whole family came together to celebrate and open presents.
“Despite being very poorly and unable to leave her bed, the hospice nurses came to do Julie’s hair and make-up ready for this special day. She wanted to look and feel her very best for her last Christmas with her loved ones.
“That’s just one example of the lengths that Ashgate staff will go to for their patients. More than anything, Ashgate strives to help people live life to the full, even when they are dying.
“Whilst Christmas will never be the same for me since I lost my wonderful daughter, I don’t look back with sadness; my memories are filled with love and happiness.”
Ashgate Hospice says a donation of £25 will help make a patient’s Christmas special by offering them and their family a delicious home-cooked Christmas meal, complete with a specially dressed table, a Christmas cracker and a gift too.
Barbara Anne-Walker, Chief Executive at Ashgate Hospice, said: “Christmas is a special time here at the hospice. It’s all about understanding what is important to each patient and their family.
“By giving a gift to Ashgate this Christmas and supporting the Christmas Appeal, not only will you help people like Julie to be pain free, but you’ll also give families the support they need to cope with their imminent loss.
“No matter the size of your donation, your support this year will help make a patient and their family’s day extra special.”
Anyone who would like to support Ashgate Hospice’s Christmas Appeal can find out more by going to www.ashgatehospice.org.uk/christmas-appeal or calling the charity’s fundraising team on 01246 567250.