A mum from Dove Holes is urging local people to support their local hospice this Christmas, to help keep families like hers together over the festive period.

A few weeks before Christmas last year, Rebecca Tollerton’s husband, Mark discovered that his lung cancer had spread to his brain and that there was no cure.

The family sought help from Blythe House Hospicecare; including accessing its 24/7 Hospice at Home service where dedicated healthcare assistants provided day and night-time ‘sits’ to fit around life with children, Amelia, 8, and George, 6.

Rebecca explained: ‘Although we knew his lung cancer was advanced, nothing could have prepared us for such news. Up until that point, we had tried to keep life as normal as possible, for the sake of Amelia and George. At that moment, I felt very alone and extremely overwhelmed. It was at that point, in my absolute hour of need that Blythe House came into our lives.’

Alongside hospice care in the comfort of the family home, Blythe House was also able to provide volunteer support with shopping and gardening, as well as counselling services to help Rebecca and the children to come to terms with Mark’s prognosis.

Rebecca added: ‘Perhaps most importantly for the children, Blythe House gave us one last Christmas at home, as a family of four. Thanks to the care and support they provided, Mark was able to stay at home with us and that meant we could spend a very special Christmas together, creating important memories. That is something that my children will never forget – and I know it meant the absolute world to Mark too.

‘Mark died on 30th June this year and the loss we feel is immeasurable. But I am comforted to know that Mark received the best care, and his last Christmas was in his own home, surrounded by the people he adored.’

Since Hospice at Home started in 2016, the service has enabled over 450 people to die at home with their families and friends by their side. Providing over 33,000 hours of home care throughout the day and night across the High Peak and Hope Valley, is more than double what was originally planned because the demand for the service is so great.

Your donation this Christmas will make a huge difference to families in your local area. A donation of £50 could pay for a qualified healthcare professional from Blythe House Hospice to visit a patient at home for three hours, providing specialist medical care.

Watch Rebecca and Mark’s video.

Christmas cards are now available to buy to help raise vital hospice funds for patient care and services here at Blythe House. Priced between £3 and £4 for a range of different designs, there is something for everyone to send out to family and friends this festive season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cards are available to buy at the following locations:

  • Blythe House Hospicecare reception, Eccles Fold, Chapel-en-le-Frith, High Peak, Derbyshire, SK23 9TJ
  • Buxton shop, 6 Eagle Parade, Buxton, SK17 6EQ
  • Chapel-en-le-Frith shop, 12 High Street, Chapel-en-le-Frith, SK23 0HD
  • New Mills shop, 3 Union Road,New Mills, SK22 3EL
  • Whaley Bridge shop, 17-19 Market Street, Whaley Bridge, SK23 7AA

Alternatively, you can order cards online. Just print off a copy of the order form and make a note of the cards that you would like. We can then post them out to you! Order form.

‘Life would have been very different without Blythe House; it would have been very tough.’

Keith was on the trip of a lifetime with his wife of 44 years Margaret, when she started to feel unwell. The couple from Glossop were travelling over a five-week period in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia, before meeting up with their South African friends in Pretoria.

They realised something was not quite right after they arrived in South Africa, when Margaret’s food fell off the side of her plate and she did not notice; she had lost her vision on the left side. There was further worry the next morning when Margaret, usually an early riser, did not want to get out of bed. They took her to a hospital in Durban, where Margaret underwent tests and scans, before their worst fears were confirmed when the doctor advised that Margaret had a lesion on her brain. Following a transfer that night to another hospital with a specialist neurological unit, and surgery a few days later, it was confirmed that Margaret had a very aggressive, terminal brain tumour.

Keith said: ‘We had some really difficult discussions with our travel insurers, who were less than helpful [Keith made a formal complaint to the Financial Ombudsman on his return home]. Thankfully we managed to fly home after a two-week stay in hospital and were transferred straight to Salford Royal Hospital where Margaret underwent a further five hours of brain surgery. Her condition improved and we had an appointment with an oncologist at The Christie Hospital three days after the surgery to discuss treatment options, but over the three days Margaret’s condition deteriorated and she was too ill to start any further treatment. We were advised that the only option was palliative care at home.

‘The surgeon from Salford Royal Hospital, Mr D’Urso, got in touch the following day and offered to undertake further surgery but advised that it was high risk. He asked us all to think about it – the operation could leave Margaret in a worse condition, but it might also prolong her life. It took Margaret about twenty seconds to decide that she wanted to have the operation, a decision that both my daughter and I agreed with. She spent seven hours in surgery on the 23rd December 2017, and we had our Christmas lunch in the high-dependency unit at Salford Royal that year.

‘After the successful operation, Margaret started to undergo chemo and radiotherapy at the Christie Hospital, and was then transferred from Salford to Tameside Hospital before going home at the end of January 2018. We travelled from home to The Christie every day for three weeks for radio/chemotherapy. This was followed by three months of chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the treatment was very injurious to Margaret’s health and she required blood and platelet transfusions after each round of chemotherapy.

‘It was in March 2018 that our social worker, Steve Gray at the hospital recommended Blythe House, and so Margaret and I came for a meeting with Karen [Clayton, Senior Nurse] to discuss how the hospice could support her. Margaret started to attend the Living Well day-care service every Thursday and thoroughly enjoyed it. Some mornings, she could not summon the energy to get dressed, but she always wanted to get up and dressed on Thursday mornings.

‘I am a keen cyclist, so on Thursdays, once I had dropped Margaret off at Blythe House and she was settled, my good friend Chris and I would head out on our bikes for the day. Cycling for me during Margaret’s illness was a great therapy and it was a massive relief to know that she was being so well looked after at the hospice; I had no worries or concerns for the whole day because I knew I had left her in such capable and competent hands. She would love the live music that volunteers came to perform weekly. She would also bring in photobooks of our travels around the world and with the help of Lorna [Barratt, Living Well Service Support Worker]; she would show fellow patients, staff and volunteers. She loved having her nails painted; it really was the little things that made her feel so special.

‘It was around the same time that we also started receiving support from Blythe House’s Hospice at Home team. Healthcare assistants would come to our house two days a week to provide personal care to Margaret and some respite breaks for me. I would be able to head out to Glossop to do some shopping or general daily tasks and even a short bike ride, safe in the knowledge that Margaret was being so well looked after at home. The team also stepped in to support us when I attended a wedding reception in Sheffield, so that they could get Margaret ready for bed and ensure she was safe. We became friends with all the healthcare assistants and had a very relaxed relationship with them; we both felt so comfortable having them in our home.

‘In October 2018, it was decided that Margaret should not undergo any further treatment, as it was just too injurious to her health. Margaret continued to attend Blythe House on Thursdays and we continued to receive support from the Hospice at Home team.

‘On the 28th January 2019, Helen, one of the Hospice at Home healthcare assistants suggested that I might want to sleep downstairs next to Margaret’s hospital bed, as she had started to show signs of Cheyne–Stokes breathing. My brother, Peter came round and we sat and chatted to Margaret. She died peacefully that evening.

‘These very valuable last 12 months Margaret spent at home would not have been possible without Mr D’Urso, the surgeon at Salford Royal, to whom I will be forever grateful.

‘Life would have been very different during Margaret’s illness had we not had the care and services from Blythe House; it would have been incredibly tough. I am so thankful that we were able to access support for 10 months and that Margaret got to enjoy attending the Living Well day-care at the hospice, and that she was so well looked after at home by the Hospice at Home healthcare assistants. I will never forget the care and compassion of everyone from Blythe House; what a wonderful team of people.

‘The first Christmas without her is going to be tough for the whole family, but I am so proud to support the Light up a Life campaign and to dedicate a light in memory of my very dear wife.’

Download a Light up a Life donation form:

Find out more about the Light up a Life service at Blythe House on Sunday 8th December.

A gala ball to celebrate 30 years of hospice care in the High Peak has raised over £23,000 to support local families affected by cancer and other life-limiting illnesses.

Hundreds of people including local businesses and volunteers attended the glitzy Blythe House event at the Octagon in Buxton on Friday 13th September.

A highlight of the night included an anonymous donation of £2,500 to sponsor a healthcare assistant to provide night-time support for two weeks in the home of a local patient at the end of their life.

The event also included silent and live auctions with special prizes including holidays, afternoon teas, meals out in the High Peak and sporting memorabilia, very kindly donated by local companies and organisations. The total amount raised is £23,015.

Becca Gregory, Fundraising and Events Coordinator, said: ‘Our first ever gala ball event was a huge success and it was fantastic to be able to celebrate the hospice’s very special pearl anniversary in this way.

‘On behalf of everyone at the hospice, I would like to extend a huge thank you to everyone who ensured the event was so great, including guests, donors and volunteers. We simply could not continue to provide the highest-quality care and services to local people affected by life-limiting illnesses without this unwavering support from our community.’

Reverend Betty Packham founded Blythe House in 1989, with a £1,000 legacy left to her by local parishioner, Stan Blythe.

The hospice needs to raise £3,600 every day to continue to provide free care and services to High Peak patients and their families. Find out more about how you could support the hospice.

See a full gallery of photos from the night on our Facebook page.

Tom Craig has volunteered at Blythe House during his summer holidays from The University of Manchester, where he is studying a biomedical science degree.

The 22-year-old, who hails from Hayfield but lives in a shared house in Fallowfield, Manchester during term time, says it’s worth volunteering at Blythe House because ‘you can really feel like you are making a difference.’

Here, Tom explains more about his summer of volunteering…

‘I have finished my second year at university this summer, and in a couple of weeks I will start the third and final year of my degree. A lot of my degree involves learning about human biological processes, and how these processes can go wrong in various diseases. However, I have decided to apply to study Medicine as a graduate entry applicant, mainly because I really would like be able to have direct contact with patients, and hopefully be able to combine my interest for science and biology, in a role where being able to talk to and help people is so important.

‘As a volunteer at Blythe House, I have been talking to patients in the Living Well day-care service, in a befriending role; playing a part in trying to make sure that people feel welcome, and helping to serve refreshments. I have really enjoyed it, I have spoken to so many interesting people, and it has been an incredibly inspiring experience. I would definitely say that this was a highlight of my time in the hospice.

‘I have also had the opportunity to shadow the nurses in the hospice, which I am really grateful for. Because my degree at the moment is a science degree, instead of a healthcare, I have not been in a healthcare environment before, and it was really inspiring to be able to experience this. I have also been able to experience some of the complimentary therapies that are on offer in the hospice, and other components of the Living Well service, such as mindfulness and meditation, as well as art therapy, which is offered to patients.

‘I have also been able to spend some time in the information and support centre; there is such large a range of support on offer, and this was also really interesting and inspiring to be able to see the amount of dedication that is given to helping to improve people’s quality of life.

‘I would completely recommend Blythe House to anybody that is considering volunteering here. It has been a really good experience; if my university term was not starting soon I would have loved to stay for longer. It has made me realise that I definitely would like to work in healthcare in the future, but mainly it has been incredibly rewarding and satisfying to feel that you are hopefully making a small difference to somebody’s life. Just being somebody who a patient can talk to about some of the difficulties that they are facing, or simply a chat about a random topic, or helping to clean the teacups at the end of the day, it is worth volunteering here simply because you can really feel like you are making a difference.

‘I am really grateful for the opportunity to volunteer at the hospice, and hopefully I will be able to help out again at some point in the future. I can’t thank the staff and other volunteers enough for the opportunity.’

Find out more about volunteering at Blythe House.

Local people are being invited to run, walk, dance, prance, jog and jingle to help raise funds for hospice care in the High Peak.

Our second annual Jingle Bell Jog is back by popular demand at Buxton’s Pavilion Gardens on Sunday 1st December 2019.

The Jingle Bell Jog offers a 5k route around the idyllic grounds, alongside a 700m Children’s Fun Run for participants under 12 years of age.

Hundreds of people took part in last year’s triumphant event, donning Santa suits and hats to jog, walk and genuinely laugh their way around the park course.

Vicki Jordan attended Blythe House’s Living Well day-care service after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. The Disley resident said: ‘The Jingle Bell Jog last year was amazing. I was still recovering from treatment so it was not exactly a record-breaking time! However, the event was such a great thing to be a part of.

‘The support I received from Blythe House had helped enormously to get me through a horrible year, and I was very glad to be able to give a little bit back. I was so proud to raise almost £700, which was beyond my wildest expectations.’

The Jingle Bell Jog will help to raise vital funds to ensure that Blythe House can continue to provide free services to people across the High Peak who have illnesses including cancer, heart failure, COPD and motor neurone disease, as well as their families and carers.

Registration for the 2019 event opens on Tuesday 17th September, with a special early bird registration offer of just £10 for the 5k route with Santa suit and goody bag included, and £2 for the children’s fun run complete with Santa hat.

Sign up online.

A local hospice service hailed by current patients as ‘wonderful’ is recruiting volunteers to support people in the High Peak who have life-limiting illnesses.

Blythe House Hospicecare’s community volunteer programme provides practical and emotional support in the homes of local patients dealing with illnesses including cancer, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease.

Prospective community volunteers attend a comprehensive training programme to develop their skills, knowledge and confidence to provide the best service. The next training opportunity begins on Monday 30th September.

Community volunteers are available to provide support including companionship, transportation and respite breaks for patients, family members and carers. A myriad of tasks have been carried out since the programme began in 2018 including mowing the lawn, clearing a room to receive a hospital bed, and simply just ‘being there’ so a carer could get some rest.

Local patients who have benefited from using the service commented:

  • ‘After three and a half years in my house I was desperate to get out and my volunteer is simply wonderful. We go out to Buxton in the car and have a walk in the park. Sometimes we will go out in the car for coffee somewhere in Chapel. It is freedom and a real treat – it is so lovely to get out!’
  • ‘All of the support I get from Blythe House is wonderful – nothing is too much trouble for them. Without my volunteer I would not be able to get out which I would hate.’

Community volunteers during training (L-R) Helen Wallis, Rachel Dennett, Margaret Charlton

Rachel Dennett has been a community volunteer since February. The Glossop resident explained: ‘My father died last year. In his last few days he was cared for by his local Hospice at Home team. I saw what a massive difference these carers made to both him and the rest of the family. Their support made an awful situation more bearable.

‘I was in a position where my children needed me less, giving me some spare time. I wanted to give something back to the community.’ Consequently, Rachel got in touch with Blythe House.

‘I’ve been involved with one patient so far. My brief was originally to provide some respite for their carer and companionship for the patient. However, in the last month or so this has changed to providing support for the carer while the patient is in hospital. I support them in a number of practical ways such as ironing, changing beds, shopping, cooking meals, along with being someone to talk to. It is a really satisfying and interesting role and I’d thoroughly recommend it. The training sessions were really helpful and often entertaining too!’

To find out more about the community volunteer programme and training – starting on Monday 30th September:

Gerard started volunteering in the Blythe House kitchen in 2014, before becoming a befriender in our Living Well service where he is able to provide practical and emotional support to patients, as well as have a jolly good chuckle with them too!

Gerard says: ‘When I started volunteering in the kitchen here, my wife thought it was absolutely hilarious! I have always helped with the housework at home, with cleaning and dusting, but I’ve never cooked!

‘After around three and a half years in the kitchen, I became a befriender which sees me welcoming patients to the Living Well service and helping them to settle in and feel comfortable. I help to provide practical and emotional support to patients, as well as serve refreshments, and just generally help to facilitate the smooth running of the service.

‘I have always believed in giving something back, especially to people who are going through difficult times; they need support and a place to share their concerns. Most of all they need to be listened to; very often people hear what you say but they don’t actually listen, so it’s very important to do so.

‘Around two years ago, I directed a staff and volunteer Christmas pantomime for patients. After being involved in the arts and drama for much of my life, it was great to feel that we were putting on such a fun and enjoyable show for them to enjoy. Wow, we had fun – it was hilarious! The following year, I read an abbreviated version of the Christmas Carol tale; complete with smoking jacket and glass of sherry!

‘I am now shadowing members of the spiritual care volunteer team, to learn more about its role in the organisation and how it supports patients. Spiritual care is not about religion or imposing your own beliefs, it’s about being there and above all, as I’ve said before: listening.

‘The whole volunteer team here at Blythe House are advocates of the organisation. It is a very happy to place to be and we have lots of fun. Volunteers are just ordinary people that care and want to help; to make a difference and to be a part of a team that is doing just that, is very fulfilling. I have made many wonderful friends here in the patients, staff and fellow volunteers; they are genuine friendships that mean something to me.’

Find out more about volunteering at Blythe House Hospicecare.

 

Chapel-en-le-Frith youngsters Freya and Ethan continue to raise money for Blythe House after their Mummy, Charlotte started to attend in February 2018, following her breast cancer diagnosis.

Freya, 10, said: ‘We took part in the Jingle Bell Jog in December 2018, and encouraged all our friends at school to do the same. We have a full assembly called collective worship and so me, Ethan and my friend William stood up to talk about Blythe House and why Mummy comes here. We explained why Blythe House is so important because it’s there for people with bad illnesses but that it is such a nice, happy place. Our teacher nearly cried!’

Ethan, 6, added: ‘About 15 friends took part in the Jingle Bell Jog; it was a really fun day – I speeded off in front and nearly caught up with William. Freya, Mummy and I raised about £400 for Blythe House.’

Charlotte said: ‘We have sold Easter chicks and bunnies at the children’s school – Chapel-en-le-Frith C of E VC Primary School – for the last two years, raising vital funds for Blythe House services. We have also got ourselves a fundraising pack for Blythe’s 30th anniversary and hope to host a special event to celebrate.’

‘I want to organise a big, BIG party…’ Freya exclaimed!

If you would like more information about fundraising for Blythe House care and services, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please contact the fundraising team by calling: 01298 816 995 or email: fundraising@blythehouse.co.uk.

Blythe House Hospicecare was founded in 1989 after local resident, Stan Blythe left a £1,000 legacy to Reverend Betty Packham.

We would love for you to help us celebrate 30 years of hospice care in the High Peak by hosting us a party!

It doesn’t matter what you do, how you do it or where you do it, it’s who you do it with that matters and the fact you are supporting your local hospice, Blythe House Hospicecare.

Please download our fundraising pack request form, fill it in and return it to Blythe House. We will then be able to send you your 30th birthday fundraising pack!

Download a request form

Read more about the history of Blythe House