Former GP turns novelist in support of his Hospice

A former Herefordshire GP has swapped prescriptions for pens by writing a futuristic novel.

Dr Mark Helme retired from General Practice almost six years ago having been based at Hereford’s Cantilupe Surgery.

Proceeds from the book, called AX50, will go to St Michael’s Hospice and Herefordshire Headway.

‘I want money to go to these two charities as they’re very close to me,’ he said.

‘I’m a Trustee at Headway, and during my time as a GP I got to know the fantastic work done by St Michael’s who I raised money for in 2014 by cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats.’

AX50 is set between 2021 – 2112 where global warming, artificial intelligence and robots abound.

‘The idea came after I discovered some jottings made in 1980 when I predicted how life would be in the year 2000,’ he added.

‘Much of it turns out to have been accurate, particularly surrounding issues such as surveillance. But it got my mind thinking about life in the future and how our world might look for generations to come.’

Mark will be signing copies of AX50 on Saturday 23rd November at Leominster Coffee & Books on Station Yard (10am-12pm) and Hereford Coffee & Books on Whitecross Road from 2-4pm.   

He will also be giving a lecture based on his research for the novel at the Simpson Hall in Burghill (HR4 7RW) on Tuesday 19th November at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10, including refreshments, and can be bought on the door. 

Copies of the book, currently on sale for the promotional price of £5, can also be bought at the St Michael’s Hospice shop in Bartestree, from the Headway in Credenhill and at Tillington Stores, as well as online by searching ‘AX50 Mark Helme’ on internet search engines.

Caption: Mark Helme with his book, AX50

Paperstation’s generous donation to St Michael’s

Paperstation Limited has pledged to donate a quarter of its profits from any new HR postcode customers to their Hospice.

Since last summer, the Malvern-based company has handed us more than £1,000 – and they’re not finished yet.

‘It’s a pleasure to donate this money to such a good cause, but that’s not the end of our fundraising,’ said Marc Wildig from Paperstation.

‘We have a special connection with the Hospice and we’ll continue to donate 25% of profits from any new HR postcode customers to St Michael’s.’

Pictured is Marc Wildig from Paperstation Limited

Reflections on 35 years of care by Dr Richard Miller

As a medical student, I spent six months helping to care for people with advanced life-limiting conditions, such as leukaemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Being so involved with patients and their families left a lasting impression on me. 

Subsequently, I went into general practice in Hereford and soon became aware of my limitations when caring for people at the end of their lives. I became interested in the holistic approach to end of life care provided by the hospice movement.

I spent time in several hospices. Each one welcomed me with that special atmosphere of loving care that is so familiar to all who have visited St Michael’s. I soon became convinced that Herefordshire needed a hospice of its own.

The catalyst for St Michael’s came when I met Freda Pearce 40 years ago in July 1979. She and her ladies’ committee had already raised a remarkable £90,000 for a body scanner in Cheltenham.

Together we shared the ambition to establish a hospice in Herefordshire. A new committee was formed and set about the daunting task of planning and raising funds. In spite of the obstacles, the faith of the committee never wavered from creating a fully equipped hospice.

One late summer’s day architect Nigel Dees, quantity surveyor Brian Adams and I met the sisters at Bartestree Convent. We ended the afternoon admiring the fantastic view and instinctively knew we had found the perfect location.

In spite of a phenomenal local response, we were yet to reach the target of £750,000. However, using his charm and political skills, Dr Jeff Kramer arranged an interest-free loan from the Regional Health Authority. Also, at the last minute, we received a donation for £50,000 from the King of Saudi Arabia. Building work proceeded on schedule, and St Michael’s opened its doors to patients on 31st October 1984.

Freda never lived to see the difference St Michael’s made to people’s lives. However, she would have been overwhelmed by how her inspiration helped establish one of the most highly regarded hospices in the world.

The positive impact the Hospice has had on the community, and the support it receives, is a tribute to everyone involved. St Michael’s has helped raise the standard of care locally, nationally and internationally through sharing its expertise.

I’m immensely proud of the care St Michael’s continues to provide and grateful to all who give their time and support to making our Hospice a place like no other. Being involved with St Michael’s has been an enormous privilege and proved to be a real blessing in my life; my faith in human nature soars every time I visit.

More than £20K raised following race night for popular farmer

An evening celebrating the life of a popular family man and farmer from Canon Pyon raised more than £20,000 for St Michael’s Hospice.

Vivian Powell died at St Michael’s in Bartestree on Christmas Day last year, aged 68.

In his memory, Vivian’s friends and family organised a Race Night at Lower House Farm in Tillington.

During the night, Vivian’s daughters, Penny and Sarah, paid a moving tribute to their dad and praised the care provided to him, and their family, by St Michael’s.

Well over 200 guests enjoyed a supper before placing their bets ahead of the racing. St Michael’s also benefitted from an auction and raffle with the total amount raised from the night reaching £23,233.

Sarah, on behalf of the family, said: ‘Vivian was so thankful to the Hospice for the support and care given to both him and his family during his final weeks.  The care and compassion offered to him by all the staff and wonderful volunteers was above and beyond our expectations, so we are very grateful to have such a fantastic hospice in Herefordshire.’

Meanwhile, this year’s Oakchurch Fashion Show will be in loving memory of Vivian, who was a close family friend of the Fashion Show organisers, the Price family.

Heart of England in Bloom judges visit St Michael’s

Heart of England in Bloom judges spent the hottest day of the year visiting Hereford.
We’re delighted they were able to start their day by calling in to see us here in Bartestree.

Judges Nicola Clarke (pictured second from right) and Joe Hayden (centre) were shown around the grounds of St Michael’s by three of our gardens’ volunteers. The visitors were then taken to various locations in and around Hereford by the Hereford in Bloom team.

If you’re green-fingered and fancy lending us a few hours of your time every now and again to help maintain our gardens, contact our Volunteer Co-ordinator Ben Pardoe on 01432 851 000 or email bpardoe@smhospicehereford.org

My 35 Waterfalls

Starting on April 15th 2018 and finishing on May 28th 2019 Allan Lloyd and Honor Cartwright visited 100 Welsh Waterfalls to help raise awareness about St Michael’s Hospice and extend the Hospice outreach programme in Radnorshire.
As part of documenting the challenge, Honor photographed each waterfall. With 100 beautiful landscapes to choose from she selected 35 of the images to create 35 bespoke hand-made greeting cards.
The sale of the unique cards will raise money for the ‘My 35 for St Michael’s’ campaign which is celebrating 35 years of care at St Michael’s Hospice.
Honor said, ‘It is indeed a great privilege to be able to support St Michael’s Hospice in their 35th Anniversary Year’.
St Michael’s Hospice Communications Manager Chris Smart said ‘It’s always a delight to hear about Allan’s fundraising. His dedication has inspired so many people to support their Hospice and the cards Honor has created are an artistic legacy to an inspiring challenge.’
Honor’s cards, measuring 15cm x 20 cms, can be purchased for £2.35 (check price with Allan) each from the shop in Reception at St Michael’s Hospice in Bartestree.

Jodie’s big jump raises £2,219.64

A big thank you to Jodie Lawrence who raised £2,219.64 (much of which was gift aided) by taking on the thrill of a tandem skydive.
Jodie, who jumped from 12,000 feet in memory of her nan June Davies said, ‘After nan died in 2018 at St Michael’s, I wanted to give something back to say thank you to the Hospice staff for the care they provided. It was a spur of the moment decision to get in contact with Skydive Swansea, but it turned out to be one of my most unforgettable experiences of my life. Within 10 minutes of landing, I decided it was something I wanted to do again.’
Jodie and everyone at St Michael’s would like to say a heartfelt thank you to those who donated money and supported her charity jump.

Indian dance at St Michael’s

Twinkle Tomy, Angel Tomy and Abigale Binso (check) delighted patients at St Michael’s with a performance of their Indian dance.
Twinkle, who first visited St Michael’s as part of her work experience from St Mary’s RC High School in Lugwardine said, ‘The Hospice has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and it felt good to perform in front of so many lovely people.’
The Day Services Team would like to thank Twinkle, Angel and Abigail for bringing so much joy and colour into the Hospice.

Nurse Jane among city residents to open garden this weekend

Four city gardens will open to the public later this Sunday (30th), and for one of the homeowners, the event will be a particularly meaningful afternoon.

Jane Gennard has worked at St Michael’s Hospice in Bartestree for 17 years as a Staff Nurse, but this weekend she will take on a different role as a Hospice fundraiser.

She and four other Aylestone Hill residents are opening their gardens as part of the St Michael’s Open Gardens season.

‘It will be a great privilege for my husband Bob and I to open our garden,’ said Jane.

‘For 17 years, St Michael’s has been a huge part of my life. My role at the Hospice allows me to be part of people’s lives at such an important time.

‘When patients arrive at the door they can be anxious, bewildered and full of emotions, often not knowing which way to turn.

‘We provide peace and quiet, sometimes by just sitting holding someone’s hand in the still of the night.

‘There is often a lot of joy among patients, loved ones, staff and volunteers.  We have been involved in celebrations such as birthday parties and weddings at St Michael’s. These are great occasions, providing lasting memories for all involved.’

Jane says she is always touched by those who want to give something back to the Hospice after losing a loved one.

‘Fundraising brings people together as a community, many of whom are going through the grieving process together at the same time,’ she said.

Jane and Bob, who live on Moreland Avenue, will be opening their garden along with their neighbours, Christina and Anthony Saville, plus Jan Bevan on Link Road and Ruth Smith on Loder Drive, all between 12-5pm.

Meanwhile Gatley Park, between Leominster and Ludlow, is next on the Hospice’s Open Gardens programme.

The public has the rare opportunity to visit the former hunting lodge this weekend (22 & 23rd June).

The property, on the edge of the Mortimer Forest, dates back to the first half of the 16th century.

For further information on all this year’s Open Gardens, including ticketing and directions, click here

Piece of the Puzzle Fundraiser

A friend’s outing to a jigsaw puzzle sale at English Bicknor village hall has put all the pieces in place for a St Michael’s Hospice fundraiser.
Dave Wooles, Jules Barnes and Pat Kirk (pictured l-r) love the challenge of completing a jigsaw and after seeing how many puzzles were being sold, decided their My35 challenge for St Michael’s would be to organise their own sale of guaranteed no-missing-pieces jigsaws.
Pat, who believes jigsaws are a great way to keep your brain active, said, ‘There’s nothing worse than spending hours doing a jigsaw only to discover that a piece is missing. So we decided to ask people to donate jigsaws which we will then provide the quality control on by completing them to check all the pieces are in place, helping raise the maximum amount of money for St Michael’s.’
The friends have been blown away by the generosity of people who have been donating their pre-loved jigsaws. ‘We have already smashed our target of completing 35 jigsaws,’ said Jules. ‘We now have over 180 puzzles that we will be able to sell with the guarantee that new owners will not be left with a hole they can’t fill.’
To coincide with St Michael’s 35th anniversary in October, the puzzle solvers will be organising their own Jigsaw sale and hope to raise around £1,000 for St Michael’s.
St Michael’s Hospice Communication Manager Chris Smart said, ‘Over the years, Jules has raised thousands for St Michael’s Hospice with her party fundraisers and everyone at the Hospice is grateful for her continuing support. We are looking forward to joining Jules, Pat and Dave for their jigsaw sale later in the year and wish them every success.’
Anyone interested in donating jigsaws to help with the fundraiser can contact Jules on 07919 247 248.