Wedding wish comes true for bride

A wedding wish has come true for a bride who feared her terminally-ill mother wouldn’t live to see her tie the knot.

Kerry Webb, from Little Dewchurch, planned to marry Dean Badhams-Williams in the near future although the couple hadn’t set a date.

But when Kerry’s mum, Cindy Davies, was diagnosed with terminal cancer just six weeks ago, the bride-to-be decided to bring the wedding plans forward to enable her mum to see her in her wedding dress.

Having mentioned her wishes to staff at St Michael’s Hospice in Bartestree, where Cindy is being cared for, the family was told a wedding blessing could be arranged at the Hospice last Saturday, which was attended by around 50 family and friends.

‘I just didn’t want to get married without my mum being there,’ said Kerry, who was given away by her grandad, Cindy’s father. ‘I wanted her to see me in my wedding dress.’

The blessing was arranged at such short notice that Kerry hadn’t even chosen a dress, instead wearing one which had been donated.

After the blessing, the couple enjoyed their first dance – Adorn by Miguel – before guests enjoyed food prepared by St Michael’s.

‘The Hospice has been amazing in making everything possible,’ added Kerry, who is 31.

‘From the moment I mentioned what I’d like to do, they’ve been great and have even sorted catering and a photographer, Cat Beardsley Photography, who took photos on behalf of St Michael’s.

‘It all happened so quickly, but it means so much to us.’

The blessing is set to be followed by a wedding service at Hereford Register Office later in the year.

If you would like more information on the services provided by St Michael’s, visit st-michaels-hospice.org.uk

Cafe lends a hand to growing friendship

Not only is our café proving ever popular, it’s also a place where friendships are grown.

For Martin and Clinton, who attend one of our Day Services groups, they look forward to visiting the café each week having set-up an informal lunch group.

The pair had never met before visiting St Michael’s Hospice but are now the best of friends.

‘We just began chatting,’ said Clinton.

‘Martin said, ‘Shall we both come back out here for lunch?’

The friends now meet each Tuesday, and they hope others will join them.

‘It’s open to anyone,’ said Martin.

‘It helps that it’s an informal setting, which I think breaks the ice.

‘The food in the cafe is very tasty and enjoyable. We look forward to our lunch here each Tuesday.’

Anyone wishing to join them can do so from about 12pm each Tuesday in the Café, which is opposite the St Michael’s Hospice Reception in Bartestree.

Record number of Santas turn heads in Hereford

A record number of Santas turned heads during a run through Hereford.

Around 250 people of all ages donned a red and white suit before dashing through the city centre, choosing from a 5k or 2.5k route.

The Santa Run is expected to raise around £4,000 for St Michael’s Hospice.

The circular routes took runners from Maylord Shopping Centre and along Victoria Street before the 5k runners took a right up Barton Road, crossing the Wye along the Great Western Way and returning via the Bishops Meadow and Castle Green.

The 2.5k runners ran past the Cathedral and along Castle Street, returning up St Owen Street to Maylord.

Big Quiz a big fundraiser for St Michael’s

A brainy foursome can lay claim to being Herefordshire’s general knowledge champions after winning the St Michael’s Hospice Big Quiz.

Almost 100 people packed into Hereford Shirehall to challenge themselves against friends, colleagues and complete strangers.

For the second Big Quiz in a row, The Erudition Commission saw off the competition to scoop top prize.

The event raised around £4,500 for St Michael’s, a figure boosted by a generous donation from event sponsors Lloyds Bank.

One of the highlights of the evening was an auction of vintage 50-year-old Bulmers Pomagne, donated to St Michael’s by Hereford resident Bob Benjamin as a thank you to Hospice staff who looked after his brother, Dave Benjamin, who died almost four years ago. 

A team from Heineken, now owners of Bulmers, attended the quiz and bid a remarkable £850 for the 1968 bottle, plus £25 for a 1971 vintage, also donated by Mr Benjamin.

Simon Stubbs, one of the Heineken team members, said the bottles are ‘coming home’ and will be added to a collection in the Reception area of Heineken’s Hereford home off Whitecross Road.

Paddy Nugent, the Hospice’s Community Fundraising Manager, thanked each team member for their support.

‘We’re very grateful to everyone who attended The Big Quiz. We hope they enjoyed the night as much as we did.

‘Big thanks must also go to Lloyds Bank for their wonderful support, and Heineken for their very generous auction bids.’

The St Michael’s Hospice Events season continues next Sunday (16th) with a Santa Run from Maylord Shopping Centre.

For entry details, and other St Michael’s Hospice events, click here

Fashion show fundraiser

There’s no need to dress this up – we’re delighted that a wonderful, eye-catching fashion show has raised hundreds of pounds for us.

More than £700 is expected to have been collected following The Woman of Valour Fashion Show, staged by the Freedom Church at The Forge on Holme Lacy Road.

These great photos give a flavour of the fun had by all on the night.

Bereavement walks at Queenswood

‘Walking is man’s best medicine’ – so said Hippocrates, the Ancient Greek pioneer.

Few would disagree with the renowned physician’s assertion, particularly a group that meets regularly at one of Herefordshire’s most popular beauty spots.

Open to anyone who has been bereaved, whether they have accessed services at St Michael’s Hospice or not, Striders & Strollers is a monthly gathering for all ages, with the group enjoying a gentle walk around Queenswood Country Park, between Hereford and Leominster.

Those attending enjoy the company of others and the chance to round off the walk with a hot drink and a slice of cake in the Queenswood Cafe. One of the regulars is Margaret who began attending the walks just over a year ago after her husband, Jim, died and she says she expects to continue.

‘It’s been a lifeline to me,’ said Margaret, who brings along her five-year-old Labrador, Caz. ‘You know that your fellow walkers know exactly how you feel because they are going through the same thing.’

The walks are held each month with a longer walk, away from Queenswood, also held regularly. There is no time limit to the group, with some regulars having attended for around two years. Shirley Young, a Social Worker at St Michael’s, is one of those who leads the walks.

‘There is no pressure whatsoever to talk about your loss; the topic of conversation can range from the weather to your favourite book or TV programme. ‘But we find that those who join us build up a friendship with many of their fellow walkers, leading to them returning each month.’

Striders & Strollers is free to take part in, but parking charges apply at Queenswood.

To find out more call Shirley on 01432 851 000.

When ‘not’ being important really matters

In her first term as a student counsellor, Karen Evans had a chance meeting with a nurse she once worked with at a care home.

Karen’s change in career from healthcare assistant was no surprise to her ex-colleague. She reminded Karen about the personal statement she’d written describing her desire to give care home residents an opportunity to talk about their lives and emotions, especially when they were suffering from grief and loss. The benefits of talking to a trained professional helped Karen through difficult life experiences of her own.

This left a lasting impression which inspired her as she practised her listening skills with fellow students during her PersonCentred Counselling Course. Karen clearly remembers when she first felt the powerful and physical sensation of connecting with a client during one of her initial placements.

‘We’d been talking about little things for 20 minutes when my client began to open up. I felt an overwhelming feeling of empathy. The connection and trust we built gave them the confidence to talk about feelings and emotions.’

Counsellors are often the first people to witness a person’s intense grief and they are trained to support people through emotional difficulties and assist them in reaching their own resolutions or developing strategies to address their concerns. Karen’s years of training have all been worthwhile. For the past two-and-a-half years she’s been enabling people to help themselves through bereavement counselling at St Michael’s.

‘It’s been a life-changing career which has left me with a deep sense of appreciation for life. My job is to use empathy to understand the pain people feel. Talking openly to someone like me, who at the outset is not important in that person’s life, provides them with a safe space, and that can help bring emotions to the surface. When people talk about how they feel it enables them to understand where the seeds of their feelings and thoughts come from.’

Throughout the counselling process, Karen sees a remarkable change in the wellbeing and happiness of her clients. ‘When I shake hands to say goodbye it’s a beautiful feeling to know they have worked through their feelings. It’s like they are six inches taller.’ Like Karen, all Hospice staff feel passionate about providing people with the best possible care and this person-centred approach is at the heart of St Michael’s.

To find out more about joining the Hospice care team, or the services they provide visit st-michaels-hospice.org.uk or call 01432 851 000.

A story to get you in the Christmas spirit

Here’s a story to prove the spirit of Christmas is alive and well…

Like most 12-year-old’s, Sophie Comins is looking forward to Christmas.

But instead of writing her festive gift wish list, she is asking friends and relatives to consider giving a donation to us instead.

St Michael’s cared for her grandfather, Vic Seal, who died here in January 2013.

Sophie, who lives with her family in Scotland, says: ‘There seems to be so much ‘stuff’ in the world but at the same time there are so many people who have so little, have lost everything or are suffering.

‘St Michael’s Hospice helped my Grandpa and all of his family so well and as it has helped everyone so much I would like to try and raise some money for them.’

Sophie’s mum, Kate, said her daughter came up with the idea by herself but concurs with her opinion of St Michael’s.

‘The care given to my dad there was phenomenal. It’s a wonderful place, and I will always remember those amazing Herefordshire views.’

You can help Sophie by donating here https://bit.ly/2PMFANP

India Wilkinson remembered

Well over 200 people, including many of India’s friends and family, filled the York Hall at Malvern St James Girls’ School to celebrate India’s life and enjoy an evening which included a personal appearance by TV’s Julia Bradbury.

India’s grandfather Roger Young said the ‘exceptional care’ his granddaughter received at St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford was the inspiration behind the event.

‘Hospice staff did everything possible to enrich her life,’ he said. ‘She benefited so much from physiotherapy sessions with Siobhan MacQuillan who always listened to India and recognised she was an intelligent adult with a determination to stay independent for as long as possible.’

Roger began planning the celebration while India was still alive with the pair approaching Malvern St James, where India was a pupil, for help. India’s former Headmistress, Olivera Raraty said, ‘India has deeply touched the lives of our school’s community, so there was a real desire to support St Michael’s and help organise a memorial day for her.’

The affection felt for India was illustrated on the night by the screening of a film showing over 40 of her friends lighting candles to commemorate what would have been India’s 20th birthday in January.

The highlight of the evening was an auction of prints created by India with help from Ledbury Letterpress and Tilly’s Press in Ledbury. The limited edition artworks also featured in a film made by India while at St Michael’s Hospice. India’s film and prints contain inspirational quotes and were first shown at India’s memorial service which was held at Canwood Gallery in Checkley where a sculpture raised in memory of India now stands for all to view.

The five prints, each with illustrated quotes, including ‘We are all stories in the end – just make it a good one’ and ‘Happiness is a quiet dog walk’ sold for a total of £4850 in the auction hosted by TV personality Charlie Luxton.

India’s passion for sport was celebrated earlier in the day when school staff along with students past and present turned out to play a memorial netball match. India’s love of science and art was also marked with the unveiling of a new painting by sixth form art student Josselyn Chau, which reflects India’s appreciation of Gustav Klimt and contains photographs and quotes contributed by friends and family.

India’s mother, Zinnia Wilkinson, said, ‘The evening was a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge everything the Hospice did for India, and continues to do for my family. I’d like to thank everyone involved for their generosity. The support from the communities of Malvern St James and St Michael’s Hospice is what had helped keep me going during times when I didn’t feel like keeping going.’

The Hospice’s Community Fundraising Manager, Paddy Nugent, said, ‘It is humbling to see the gratitude shown by all of India’s friends and family. We would also like to give special thanks to Roger Young, Rebecca Jones, Sue Davies, Ali Haydn-Jones, Matthew Young and everyone at Malvern St James for giving their time and resources so generously.’

Photo l-r:  Olivera Raraty, Siobhan MacQuillan, Zinnia Wilkinson and Paddy Nugent.