Archbishop of Canterbury lights the way for St Michael’s

The Archbishop of Canterbury has became the first to take part in our new project set to illuminate Hereford Cathedral.

During his visit to St Michael’s, Archbishop Justin Welby wrote a short dedication to the Hospice which was placed in an illuminated jam jar.

As an addition to our Light up a Life programme, we are now inviting everyone to join in by writing a message to a loved one you’ll be remembering this Christmas. Each message will be placed in separate illuminated jam jars, helping form a large display of light at Hereford Cathedral during our final Light up a Life service on Sunday 15th December.

You can write your message at St Michael’s Hospice Reception in Bartestree from Friday 1st November, or by calling into our Hospice Information Point vehicle at the Old Market, Hereford during late night Christmas shopping on Wednesday 20th and 27th November.

Archbishop Welby’s short visit to St Michael’s also included a tour of our Day Services building, meeting patients, staff and volunteers.

For more information on this year’s Light up a Life, click here

Miniature masterpieces hoping to make giant impression

View all artwork here

Miniature masterpieces created by some of our region’s most talented artists will go under the hammer later this month.

The original works have been specially produced for Postcards from Life – an online art auction which over the years has raised tens of thousands of pounds for St Michael’s Hospice.

This year, almost 80 artists have produced 181 pieces of framed postcard-sized art free of charge, spanning a variety of subjects.

Among the returning contributors is Viv Lucas and her partner, John Sherahilo.

‘Every year the work is so varied,’ said Viv, who is based near Ross-on-Wye and opened her garden during the Hospice’s Open Gardens season last year. 

‘You never quite know what’s going to be created.

‘We enjoy Postcards, so much so that we have bought a number of pieces down the years.’

The online auction begins on Monday 21st October and will be hosted by Brightwells.

All the artwork will go on display to the public for three days from Friday 8thNovember at the Bishops Palace in Hereford. 

Bidding on each lot will close on Monday 11th November.

‘I would like to send a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to everyone who has taken the time to produce this work, and everyone who will bid,’ said Event Organiser, Gaynor Warren.

‘We wouldn’t be able to provide the care we do without you.’

To view this year’s Postcards and for a link to the Brightwells website to bid, when live, click here

Caption: Tash and Tash from St Michael’s Hospice display some of the work which will be up for auction during this year’s Postcards from Life.

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.

Herefordshire Hospice Trail

The Herefordshire Group Trail Riders Fellowship held its third Herefordshire Hospice Trail on 14th and 15th September at the Baskerville Hall Hotel in Clyro. Entry fees and event raffle (with prizes kindly donated by local Hereford and Leominster motorcycle dealers) raised £2,500 for St Michael’s Hospice, bringing the group’s accumulative total to £5,336.

The group, which formed in 2016, used its green lane riding expertise to lead participants across legally accessible green lanes around the Herefordshire-Wales border.

With entertainment from local band The Phoenix, camping and good food on offer, the event attracted participants from across the country.

Chris Smart, Communications Manager at St Michael’s Hospice, said, ‘We are very privileged to have so much support from the Herefordshire motorcycling community. We want to thank the Herefordshire Group of The Trail Riders Fellowship for putting on such a well-organised event and for continuing to support St Michael’s Hospice. We look forward to visiting their 2020 event.’

The Herefordshire Trail Riders Fellowship are one group from the National TRF who regularly ride the legal green roads (Byways and ORPA’S/ Other Roads with Public Access) of Herefordshire and Wales plus many other areas throughout the year.

To find out more about joining the Trail Riders Fellowship, attending one of their monthly meetings at the New Inn, Fownhope or taking part in the Herefordshire Hospice Trail 2020, call Graham Hutton on 07581 023924 or for more details.

Photo: The Herefordshire Group of The Trail Riders Fellowship presents Hospice Angel Mike Pullin with £2,500 for St Michael’s Hospice.

Garden Festival continues to grow

Organisers of an annual Herefordshire garden festival which this year gave its largest ever donation to charity have met up to hand over the money to two good causes.

Hellens Garden Festival announced it was giving a total of almost £17,000 from this year’s two-day Festival in Much Marcle to St Michael’s Hospice and the Back to the Wild Community Interest Company.

In just over ten years the Festival has now donated more than £65,000 to St Michael’s.

‘Hellens continues to be a great success, thanks in no small part to the wide array of guests and stall holders we welcome each year,’ said Gail Calthrop, one of the Festival’s Creative Directors.

‘We’d like to thank every one of them for creating this memorable Festival, and the public for supporting us each and every year.’

This year’s highlights included Herefordshire-based actor John Challis opening the Festival alongside BBC Radio 2’s gardening guru, Terry Walton.

Visitors were given the chance to attend horticultural masterclasses and take part in forums on sustainability and outdoor learning.

‘Everyone at St Michael’s is so grateful to Hellens Garden Festival for their continued generosity,’ said Ruth Denison, the Hospice’s Income Generation and Marketing Director.

‘Their support has helped, is helping and will continue to help families affected by terminal cancer in Herefordshire and the surrounding area.

‘On behalf of them, thank you for making a difference at such an important time in their lives.’

Plans are already underway for next year’s Hellens Garden Festival which will carry the theme, ‘Together, We are the Seeds of Change’. It will take place on the 13th– 14thJune 2020. 

Caption: Terry Walton speaking at this year’s Hellens Garden Festival

A Masterclass in Mindfulness

One of the world’s leading Mindfulness figures has visited St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford.

Vidyamala Burch, who co-founded the Breathworks movement, led a Masterclass day at the Bartestree-based Hospice.

She was joined by Sona Fricker, a fellow Breathworks co-founder.

More than 20 people attended the day which was held in the Hospice’s Education department.

‘St Michael’s was proud to host the Breathworks’ Masterclass from Vidyamala,’ said Gail Calthrop, the Hospice’s Breathworks Mindfulness Practioner.

‘The Hospice is such a beautiful setting for attendees to learn and develop mindful and self-compassionate approaches to live more helpfully with illness and the stresses and strains of daily life.’

Aside from her work with Breathworks, Vidyamala has written widely on Mindfulness-based pain management.

A sign of generosity from Herefordshire & Ludlow College

A new carpentry machine set to benefit college students across Herefordshire and beyond has already paid dividends for St Michael’s Hospice.

Around 15 wooden signs each bearing the name of a different county village have been created by the computer-controlled cutting device called a CNC machine at Herefordshire & Ludlow College on Folly Lane in Hereford.

The oak signs are a donation to St Michael’s and will shortly be placed in the Hospice’s flowerbeds which are each named after villages across the county.

‘It was a pleasure doing them,’ said Peter Morgan, the Timber Technician at the College who created the signs. 

‘It’s great to be doing something for such a good cause. It also shows us what this machine is capable of.’

The idea for the signs was the brainchild of Volunteer Gardeners at St Michael’s, including Harry North.

‘Instead of just numbering the flowerbeds I thought it would be a good idea to name them after Herefordshire villages,’ said Harry.

‘So, we approached the College and it went from there.

‘We’re very grateful to them. The signs look great.’ 

CAPTION: (from left) Peter Morgan, Timber Technician at Herefordshire & Ludlow College, and Harry North, one of the Hospice’s Volunteer Gardeners.

United for St Michael’s

A junior football team has chosen to support St Michael’s in a show of solidarity to a teammate whose dad died here.

Ross Juniors Under 12s Colts are sporting shirts bearing the logo of St Michael’s this season after hearing how much 10-year-old team member Layla Watkins had been helped by the Hospice.

Layla’s dad, Andrew Watkins, died at St Michael’s on 1st June.

He was an avid Liverpool fan who attended a game at Anfield with a St Michael’s Hospice nurse and his other daughter, Evie, back in April. He died just 15 minutes after the Reds lifted the Champions League trophy by beating Tottenham.

‘The girls just wanted to do something to show their support for Layla,’ said Andrew’s mum, and Layla’s grandmother, Sue Watkins.

‘My husband, Charlie Watkins, also died at St Michael’s just seven weeks after Andrew.

‘The dedication, love and support given by everyone at St Michael’s was just mindblowing.

‘I’ll always be indebted to them. They are such special people.’

Hospice supporters Brenda and George Corfield, who are relatives of the team’s manager Kevin Evans, supported the sponsorship to tie in with their 50thwedding anniversary.

‘We were very touched when we heard that Ross Juniors Under 12s Colts will be wearing shirts bearing the logo of St Michael’s,’ said Ruth Denison, the Hospice’s Income Generation and Marketing Director.

‘For those so young to be so thoughtful is extremely moving and we are very grateful to them and to everyone at the club for their generosity.

‘We wish them every success for this season and beyond.’

New routes, new memories during Venus night

Hundreds of women painted the town pink on Friday as Hereford’s midnight streets were taken over by fundraisers.

Tens of thousands of pounds is expected to be raised for St Michael’s Hospice following the Venus 35th Anniversary Challenge walk.​

This year, for the first time, women had the choice of three circular routes; a 5K, 10K or 15K, each setting off from Hereford Leisure Centre.​

Many of those taking part had a personal connection to St Michael’s.​

For Caroline Mulloy, just completing the 10K was an achievement.​

‘I have MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and there were quite a few times when I didn’t think I’d finish,’ said Caroline, who walked with a friend.​

‘But what kept me going was knowing I was raising money for such a great cause. St Michael’s cared for my grandmother and I didn’t want to let down those who had pledged money. I didn’t want to let myself down either. It was a great feeling to reach that finish line.’ ​

The walkers began the evening by taking part in a variety of warm-up dance routines led by Hereford-based The Starlight Company.​

Enroute, refreshments were available at Castle Green, while a memory garden featuring paper lanterns containing walkers’ dedications to loved ones was created in the grounds of Hereford Cathedral.​

‘Venus is always a special night but this year was particularly poignant as it marked 35 years of St Michael’s Hospice first opening its doors to the community,’ said the Hospice’s Events Manager, Matt Ashcroft.​

‘Congratulations to everyone who took part. Thanks also to the people of Hereford for the continued support they give to the women along the route. The boost this gives them cannot be underestimated.​

As always, we were again so fortunate to have the help of dozens of marshals. These volunteers give up their Friday night to ensure the event runs smoothly and on behalf of St Michael’s and the Venus walkers, I’d like to say a huge thank you.’​

The Hospice Community and Events programme continues this Autumn with Postcards from Life beginning on Monday 28th October, and the Halloween Torch-lit Pumpkin Walk on 31st October.​

For more information, click here

Hospice Flower Festival set to raise over £60k

The much-anticipated St Michael’s Hospice Flower Festival looks set to raise over £60,000 following three days which will live long in the memory of those who attended.

As the scent of autumn descended on Herefordshire, thousands of visitors were drawn to the county’s largest flower festival by the fragrant and visual beauty created by dozens of arrangers.

The interior at Lyde Arundel was bedecked with displays, all constructed under the theme of Transformation and Peace.

Opening the Festival was horticultural expert and TV presenter Monty Don, who lives in Herefordshire.

Welcoming guests he said he was ‘profoundly impressed’ by what he’s seen, adding he was very proud to be opening it.

The Festival tied in with celebrations marking the Hospice’s 35th anniversary.

The event is thanks in no small part to the dedication of its four principal organisers, Stephen Rabbitts, Carola Kean, Jacqueline Flack and Joan Davies.

The event is the third time this team have put on a display of this size for St Michael’s; the previous two taking place eight and 10 years ago.

For Carola, the cause is one close to her heart.

‘My husband died at St Michael’s almost 16 years ago. My mum also passed away there, so I’m well aware of the great work the Hospice does.

‘The Festival has been a big success and I’ve been pleased to see a wide range of ages attending.’

Paddy Nugent, the Hospice’s Community Manager, said visitors were left astounded by the arrangements.

‘The thought, time and ingenuity which has gone into these works of art is truly staggering,’ he said.

‘Thank you to every arranger for supporting us, and to the community for attending and making Transformation and Peace such a huge success.’

He said attention now turns to Postcards From Life which sees hundreds of postcards created by artists across Herefordshire and beyond, go under the hammer during an online auction.

The auction begins on Monday 28th October before a three-day exhibition of the work at the Bishop’s Palace in Hereford from 8th-10th November.

More details here

Pic caption: Monty Don (centre) with the Festival’s principal organisers (from left) Joan Davies, Carola Kean, Jacqueline Flack and Joan Davies.