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Ashgate Hospice > ‘I’ll be caring for hospice patients on Christmas Day – one year after my beloved mum died’

While many of us are at home sharing gifts and eating dinner with family, one hospice worker will be dedicating his Christmas to caring for sick patients on what could be their last. 

Christopher Dalton, Healthcare Assistant at Ashgate Hospice, will be working between 7am and 7:30pm on Christmas Day and Boxing Day this year. 

The 51-year-old, who works at the hospice’s Inpatient Unit in Old Brampton, Chesterfield, will ensure patients and their families can celebrate in whichever way they are able to.  

Christopher says the festive season will be particularly difficult for him this year, after his mother, Ann, died just days before Christmas last year. 

But he says she was a “big supporter” of the North Derbyshire charity and working at Christmas and being there for families would always make her proud. 

He said: “My mum died just a few days before Christmas last year and so this year will be the first full Christmas experience of not having her around.  

“I went to buy my Christmas cards last week and not buying one for my mum, who loved her cards, really brings it home how hard it is lose someone so close. 

“I know she was always proud to know that the reason I wasn’t with her on Christmas Day was because I was at work helping others spend what could be their last Christmas together. 

“This has always filled me with pride and will continue to do so in the future.” 

Christopher, who joined Ashgate in November 2019, knows what it’s like to work over the festivities having done so for the hospice and in his former role as a care worker.  

Thanks to our volunteer photographer Ellie Rhodes (www.ekrpictures.com)

Some of the patients receiving care on the hospice’s Inpatient Unit will be nearing the final weeks and days of their lives. 

Others will be receiving pain and symptom management support – in the hope that they will feel well enough to return home with their families for the New Year.  

Christopher said being able to “make a difference” to people’s lives at such a difficult time for many is the best part of his job. 

He added: “It is so important for patients and the people around them to feel that they can spend Christmas doing whatever they wish.  

“We will get a feel in the lead up to Christmas as to how much patients want to celebrate – some might want to try and do what they always would, while others may want to be quiet and treat it as any other day. 

“Every family is different but in the end the aim is the same: to make a memory that will stay with them forever. 

“When a patient or a family member turns to you and says, “thank you” then it means what I am doing is making a difference to them, no matter how big or small.” 

Ashgate Hospice is inviting people to support its Christmas Appeal this year so it can be there to provide care for patients and families in the future.   

This year, Ashgate must raise another £9 million over and above NHS funding to provide its care.  

A donation of £25 will help make a patient’s Christmas extra special by offering them and their family a delicious home-cooked meal, complete with a specially dressed table, a Christmas cracker and a gift too.    

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. 

Thanks to our volunteer photographer Ellie Rhodes (www.ekrpictures.com)