More people affected by life-limiting illnesses in the High Peak and surrounding areas are set to benefit from extended holistic, palliative and end of life care, as Blythe House Hospicecare introduces its modernised services and brand new Community Hub.

Launching in autumn 2020, the Blythe House Hospicecare Community Hub will continue to provide a wide range of services, but deliver them in a different way: a more modern, post-COVID-19 way, which will help many more patients and their carers.

A multi-disciplinary team, including nurses, counsellors, a physiotherapist and occupational therapist, will provide programmes of care, education and support during the day, in the evenings and weekends. There will be more support groups and clinics, working alongside clinicians and therapists to offer a wider range of much-needed services.

Local people who are affected by illnesses such as cancer, motor neurone disease, advanced heart, kidney and respiratory diseases– including patients, their families, carers and medical professionals – will have access to the Community Hub.

New horizons – maintaining excellence and improving where needed

Innovative services on offer will include educational and support programmes for fatigue, anxiety and breathlessness; dementia care; parenting through grief; well-being and physical activity.

In addition to the hospice’s current offering of outpatient clinics, there will be more sessions for local patients to receive care, guidance and medical advice closer to home, avoiding lengthy travel to hospitals or other healthcare providers. This will include nurse advice clinics for information, support, and symptom management advice, as well as a carer’s surgery. Specialist colleagues, including Dr Sarah Parnacott, Consultant in Palliative Medicine, will offer their clinics from the Community Hub.

The hospice will continue to enjoy strong links and relationships with local partners including Ashgate Hospicecare; GPs; community and specialist nurses; and other care providers, so that patients receive the most comprehensive care.

An all-day community café on Fridays will provide light refreshments including breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas, for patients and families to enjoy the hospice’s unique environment and atmosphere.

Working in unison with the Community Hub, the Hospice at Home service will continue to provide 24/7 care to local patients, who wish to die in the comfort of their own home with their family and loved ones by their side.

Hospice transformation and volunteer power

To coincide with the launch of the new service model, the hospice building, based on Eccles Fold in Chapel-en-le-Frith, is currently undergoing a major transformation to ensure it is accessible to all visitors. Managed and co-funded by national charity, CRASH, the project is drawing on the professional skills, materials and financial generosity of the construction industry.

Alongside this, stimulating training opportunities will be available to new and existing hospice volunteers. The current team of almost 300 volunteers donate hundreds of hours of their time every year, to ensure that Blythe House can continue to provide free care and services to local people.

The Community Volunteer team – supporting local patients with light tasks and companionship – continues to grow and expand, building on its initial success and the invaluable support provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Special Blythe House ethos

Janet Dunphy, CEO at Blythe House Hospicecare, said: ‘We are buzzing with excitement to launch our brand new Community Hub; Building Back Better to support even more people in our local area, whilst maintaining the very special ethos of Blythe House.

‘Generally, hospice services are continually monitored, and often change regularly such as every three years, to ensure that they are still fit for purpose, and solvent. The last review of services at Blythe House took place a decade ago, so it was vital that we undertook this research and analysis of our current offering.

‘We want our dedicated supporters who donate to us, to know that we’re helping as many people as possible, and providing services that are very much needed. Patients need local services that connect them to other healthcare systems, providing a multi-disciplinary service that is both flexible and accessible to everyone. Blythe House is keeping it local and ensuring resilience in our community.

‘Our committed Board of Trustees has overseen and agreed all of the exciting service revolutions; we have kept our mission, charitable objectives and core functions, and ensured that every pound donated is spent wisely. This was an exercise to maximise efficiency, not a cost-saving review; we are spending the same amount of money per year to deliver more services, and support even more people. All new services, including groups and clinical activity, will increase as they evolve and grow, to meet the growing and changing needs of our community.’

Career opportunities

As part of the exciting launch later this year, the hospice will be recruiting its own physiotherapist, occupational therapist and two care navigators, who will assess referrals and direct them to the appropriate in-house services.

The timing of the Community Hub launch is dictated by government restrictions given the current COVID-19 situation, but it is hoped that the new service provision will be available to local people by October 2020.

Blythe House was founded in 1989 by Reverend Betty Packham after Stan Blythe from Fairfield left her a £1,000 legacy in his Will. Betty cared for Stan in the comfort of her home during the final months of his life.

Keep up to date on the Community Hub launch and upcoming job vacancies:

 

Staff and volunteers at our charity shop in Chapel-en-le-Frith are urging local people to stop unloading items outside when the store is closed.

Since the High Street shop re-opened after lockdown on Monday 15th June, it has been inundated with kind donations from local residents who have been taking time to have clear outs during the government restrictions.

The shop teams, made up of staff and volunteers, have been limiting donation times to certain days, due to the amazing amount of items that have been given over the last few weeks.

Despite display signage politely asking people to not drop off donations outside of opening times, dozens of people continue to leave items in the shop’s doorway or on the pavement.

Marie Brown, Retail Manager, said: ‘We are so very grateful for the fantastic donations that we have received since we re-opened after lockdown – these items are helping us to raise thousands of pounds for local hospice care – supporting people affected by life-limiting illnesses in our community.

‘Over the last few weeks though, I have regularly come to open up the shop in the morning, or after a weekend, to find mounds of items piled up outside the door or on the pathway. We haven’t had the best summer so far, so more often than not, the items are soaked through after heavy rain.

‘Due to current government restrictions, we have to quarantine all donations for three days before we’re able to be sort them and put out for sale in our shops. Wet or damaged items cause us issues with storage and hygiene, as well as the safety of our staff and volunteers.

‘We politely ask that you please do not leave donations outside the shop – this is classed as fly-tipping and is a punishable offence. My volunteer team and I are so eager to help you with your very kind donations, when the shop is open.’

To check or ask any questions in advance, please do not hesitate to call the shop in advance on: 01298 814587.

Andrew Foreshew-Cain became a Blythe House Community Volunteer in summer 2018, and since then, has provided practical support and companionship to hospice patients and their families, including respite care and gardening.

Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Andrew has continued his vital role in the community, as one of 48 volunteers providing essential care and support to local patients, as well as those who are vulnerable, lonely or isolated.

Here, Andrew explains more about his volunteering role…

‘I became a Community Volunteer back in 2018; I was looking for a way to give back to the local community, and everyone spoke so highly of Blythe House and the work it does that it seemed to be the natural place to go. I had been baking for the monthly coffee mornings for a little while beforehand, which I very much enjoyed, but decided that a less personally fattening way forward was perhaps wise!

‘I trained up to be a Community Volunteers, working with the ever cheerful Julie and Vicci [Forrest and Wild, Community Volunteer programme staff team]. The training was thorough and interesting and answered a lot of questions and concerns. I then spent the summer sitting with a patient whilst his wife went out for a break each week. It was so easy and enjoyable and his wife was so appreciative.

‘I also helped out with a few gardening jobs – in one place in a garden already so immaculately kept that I was worried I would mess it up, but the owner clearly felt that the usual standards had slipped. It made my own attempts at gardening at home look rather shoddy, and inspired me to try a little harder!

‘I work in Oxford in term time during the week, so was away when COVID-19 kicked off. I came back at the end of March and responded to an email from the team. I have a couple of regular things to do each week – shopping for person in Whaley Bridge and checking in on an older resident in Chapel. Both are simple and rewarding to do and seem to be really appreciated.

‘I’ve also done a bit of running around doing deliveries and so on, as and when asked. But I find you have to be quick off the mark – a need is posted and people are right on it and support offered. I decided to limit what I offered to once or twice a week to give others the chance to do something so I do not sit on the computer looking of things to do.

‘I am always happy to respond to a direct request, which has happened a few times and the team are great in understanding when it’s not possible. I am back to work off furlough now and spending a lot of time taking part in online meetings, so sometimes it isn’t always possible to help. But that is always understood and any help offered seems to be appreciated.

‘The thing I have enjoyed most about volunteering during lockdown is the simple reward of being able to do something, when it feels at the moment that we can’t do a lot in the face of the challenge that is facing society. I’m not a doctor, I am not a nurse, I am not a teacher or a worker in a shop or in a front line service delivery role – it would be too easy to sit at home and feel useless but volunteering for Blythe House means I can do a little bit to make life easier for people who are having a hard time and help support the community around me.

‘There’s huge kindness around, and the stress of these weeks seems to have released people to be consciously kinder in response to the stress. Simple things like people saying thank you and smiling as we dance around each other as we pass in the street, trying not to get too close. The staff at the entrance to shops helping make the delays of waiting to enter more bearable and the wonderful way organisations like Blythe House but also the local smaller shops and companies have responded in imaginative ways to offer deliveries and make life a little easier. Of course there are grumpy people around, and certainly at the start some of us didn’t behave very well but that seems to have faded and we’ve rediscovered something in this period that I hope we keep: how local community is important and local shops and organisations are the backbone of the country.

‘Right at the start of lockdown, I was asked to go shopping for one person, and went to the butcher to get some meat for them, including some ham that was clearly stated on the list. When I got home I put the bags down and popped out to get something else on the list only to discover on my return that my cat had discovered the ham and made off with it. I had to go and get a replacement from the local supermarket as the butchers had shut. I was not asked to do that person’s shopping again!

‘I’ve also had some lovely conversations with one particular person – he’s well into his 80’s and has lived in Chapel for years and knows loads of history. His house is ancient, and he pointed out that the path outside the house that I was standing was built on a culvert that had been a stream until the 1950’s – and that the people in his house had grown watercress in it for themselves and to sell locally. You’d never know to look at the street and houses now that it had been such a different place then. He has also told me more about Morris dancing and thinks I have the legs for it!

‘I’m also involved with a group called Tea and Chat in Chapel, for older local residents. In more normal times we meet monthly for a chat and a chance to catch up with each other; old friends reconnecting and having a laugh. We’ve set up a Zoom group and meet virtually every Friday, which is a lot of fun but we are very much looking forward to life beginning to return to normal and being able to see each other again and share a cup of tea face to face.

‘I’m a Church of England minster – so I am also hosting prayers every evening on Zoom and a short service online on a Sunday morning. Both are meant to be for students and staff from my college but mostly seem to be “attended” by Chapel locals. It’s a bit odd, but we’re also able to reach people who haven’t been able to get to Church for years but can now pray and feel part of a community of friends. There’s a lesson there for us as we come out of lockdown that we mustn’t lose.

‘Overall, people have been very kind and appreciative, even for the smallest things that take so little out of my day but make a big difference to the lives of the people I am seeing. It is rewarding – and humbling. As always, I am pleased to be part of the Blythe House team; it is a good place to be.’

[Last updated: 20.10.2020]

The reception, porch, downstairs toilets and a bathroom area at Blythe House are undergoing a major transformation to ensure the building is accessible to all visitors. Read the full story.

 

 

 

A leaflet filled with advice and guidance about palliative and end of life care is being distributed across the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales to support primary care staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Janet Dunphy, CEO at Blythe House Hospicecare, has drafted the document to offer advice and support to local colleagues, who may be experiencing more conversations about death and dying due to the current situation.

Janet, who has over 35 years of experience as an end of life care specialist, said: ‘Originally I devised the leaflet with care home staff in mind, but having written it, I hope it will be beneficial to colleagues across the healthcare sector during the current times.

‘I just wanted to share some useful phrases that I have learnt over the years of working with dying people and their families. The leaflet has advice on having difficult conversations and answering tricky questions on subjects including what to expect when someone is dying, as well as medication and treatment issues. There is also some mental health and well-being guidance, which could not be more important now. I sincerely hope local healthcare professionals have and will find the leaflet helpful.’

Dr Louise Jordan from Baslow Health Centre said: ‘Both clinical and admin staff at the surgery have found the leaflet to be incredibly useful; we have downloaded and printed further copies from the hospice’s website. Not only do I believe it’s valuable to healthcare staff, but members of the public may find it of interest, especially during the unprecedented times we find ourselves in at the moment.’

Read and download a copy of the ‘thinking of you’ leaflet.

Throughout this week (11-17 May 2020), Blythe House Hospicecare is commemorating Dying Matters Awareness Week, and inviting you to open up and start the conversation about death and dying.

Dying Matters explains: ‘Talking about death doesn’t bring death closer. It’s about planning for life, helping us make the most of the time that we have. However, starting the conversation, particularly with those close to you, is never easy. We don’t want to upset people, or sound gloomy. Still, families commonly report that it comes as a relief once the subject is brought out into the open.’

Now, more than ever, it is important for us to have these discussions with our loved ones. Subjects you might like to talk about include:

  • The type of care you’d like towards the end of your life
  • Where you’d like to die
  • Funeral arrangements
  • Your will
  • What you’d like people to know before you die

Janet Dunphy, Blythe House CEO, says: ‘It is a good time to have those sensitive and really important conversations about what matters…’

Watch Janet’s video now:

Throughout the current situation, our hospice team is providing advice and support to hundreds of local patients and carers about the COVID-19 pandemic. Louise Furmston, our community engagement manager, explained: ‘The current situation has heightened issues around dying. We have seen a definite increase in isolation and losses, compounded by coronavirus. Patients and carers are feeling overwhelmed and are finding it difficult with the loss of 1:1, face-to-face support at the hospice. We have been there to advise local people with questions including about end of life concerns.’ Find out more.

Many people have turned to arts and crafts to occupy their mind over the last few months. This Dying Matters Awareness Week, we have thought about a number of creative ideas you could set your mind to, to keep busy and help you to think about death, dying and bereavement:

  • Create your own, mini ‘before I die’ board.
  • Why not stitch, knit or sew a heart or rainbow to let someone know you’re thinking of them and you are there if they need to chat. Download a free rainbow of hope pattern.
  • Have a go at designing your own coffin! Perhaps you don’t want a standard wooden box – maybe you’d like it to be bright yellow, or painted with seaside huts as a reminder of your favourite holiday destination! You might like a different material like wicker or bamboo! Whatever your ideas, get them down on paper and share them with your family.
  • For hundreds of ideas around getting creative to support grief and bereavement, including painting rocks, making a memory lantern and creating a remembering ornament, visit Pinterest.

Find lots of helpful resources including leaflets about supporting bereavement; talking about dying; and things to do before you die, on the Dying Matters website.

A nighttime walk organised to raise vital funds for hospice care in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales is set to get the whole community glowing when it returns next year.

Our Glow Twilight Walk was due to take place on Saturday 18th July 2020, but following recent Government measures, and in times of such unprecedented uncertainty, this year’s walk is being postponed.

The hospice has worked with event partners and the venue over the last few weeks, and is delighted to announce a new date for the 10k event: Saturday 15th May 2021.

Janet Dunphy, Blythe House Hospicecare CEO, said: ‘Obviously this is not the decision we wanted to make about our fantastic Glow Twilight Walk. The event in 2019 was our first ever, seeing hundreds of people don fancy dress and glow sticks to light up the night in Buxton and raise over £20,725 for hospice care and services.

‘We were incredibly excited to host the second annual event this July, and though we are optimistic that the situation in the UK will have improved by then, we are no longer able to spend the coming weeks working closely with event partners, volunteers, suppliers and of course our dedicated hospice supporters, making the Glow Twilight Walk a reality.

‘We sincerely hope everyone will come together to join us on Saturday 15th May next year, to get their glow on and have a fantastic time with loved ones whilst raising money for end of life and palliative care here in our local community.’

If you have already registered for this year’s Glow Twilight Walk, your place will be transferred automatically to the new date in May 2021. If you cannot make the new date, you would like a refund, or if you have any queries, please email: events@blythehouse.co.uk.

Blythe House Hospicecare healthcare assistants continue to support palliative and end of life patients in the local community during the ongoing COVID-19 situation. If you would like to make a donation to support hospice services throughout this time, please visit our donation page.

Follow Blythe House on social media to stay up to date on when registration for next year’s Glow Twilight Walk will open:

The coronavirus pandemic is understandably leaving many of us feeling worried and anxious about the future. We have put together this web page to collate helpful advice and information about looking after yourself and your mental well-being during this uncertain time. It will be updated regularly with new content, and we hope that you find it helpful.

Linda Brady, one of our counsellors, has recorded some simple meditation practices which you can enjoy in your own time.

  • The first is a three minute breathing exercise
  • The second is a meditation for feeling as safe as you reasonably can
  • The third is a grounding exercise that you may find useful

Linda has taken the time to share some ideas to help you stay connected throughout this time. She explained: ‘We know many of you will be missing the physical connection between you and your family and friends – that face-to-face contact that we often take for granted.’ Read Linda’s advice now.

Linda has also highlighted support available from Action for Happiness. She said: ‘They produce monthly “coping calendars” which suggest actions that we can take to look after ourselves and each other. You can sign up to get each month’s calendar sent to you. There’s also an app for mobile phones that might be helpful.’ Visit the website to find out more.

Ann Burgoyne, who usually runs a weekly mindfulness meditation class at Blythe House, got in touch to offer a breathing practice called the ‘3 minute breathing space.’ She explained: ‘It uses a short acronym AGE to help remember how it goes. We use this sometimes to start our Wednesday evening meditation group at Blythe House.’

Pause whatever you are doing, eyes can be open or closed…

  • 1st Minute – A – Become Aware of the activity of the mind (thoughts, thinking, etc.), feelings and sensations in the body
  • 2nd Minute – G – Gather the awareness in to rest on your breathing and each breath as it happens
  • 3rd Minute – E – Expand your awareness out to notice the whole body and the space around your body.

‘Notice how you are at the end of the practice and if you feel you need to calm a little more simply rest your awareness on the next three breaths, breathing right to the end of each of the outbreaths. At the end of the third outbreath, let go and allow the breathing to gently settle back into it’s natural rhythm and move into the rest of your day. Do this as openly as you need or wish through the day.’

  • The Wellness Society have published a free Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook to help manage stress and anxiety during this period of global uncertainty. Download it for free now.
  • There are lots of free meditations readily available on YouTube to help support anxiety, worry or stress. Search here.
  • The Mindfulness Association is currently offering a free daily online meditation, 7pm-7.30pm, followed by a chat until 8pm. It’s a great way of getting a sense of connection to others.
  • Two well-known apps Headspace and Calm are both offering free content at the moment including meditations, soothing music, sleep exercise and stories.
  • Look out for online exercise classes that are being offered by personal trainers and gyms – including yoga, Pilates or more intensive workouts.
  • Enjoy a walk in the fresh air, whilst practicing social distancing.
  • Turning a mountain into hills – a useful article by Charlotte Walker who considers what she can and cannot control throughout the pandemic, and explains: ‘I hope it inspires you to think about your own mountain and how you could come up with your own version of more manageable hills.’
  • Tolerating uncertainty – by Carol Vivyan’s may be useful. She explains: ‘When we are anxious, we tend to over-estimate the danger, and the odds, of bad things happening, and we under-estimate our ability to cope if or when those bad things happen. Even if the odds are really small that a bad thing will happen, that tiny chance is enough to really upset us. We call it “intolerance of uncertainty”.’
  • Coronavirus: How to look after your self-care in these uncertain times – a very useful article from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
  • Mind have information on their website if you are worried about coronavirus and how it could affect your life. This may include being asked to stay at home or avoid other people. Find out more.
  • Helpful content including videos about emotional health and well-being during this time, from Derbyshire County Council.
  • Catherine Serjeant, art therapy coordinator, said: ‘The arts are a wonderful solace in times of trouble. So many times, I have heard people say how you forget all your troubles while being absorbed with crafts and arts. Now every morning I’m absorbed with an pictorial diary. I’m painting, drawing, collaging, writing.  You don’t have to be brilliant at it, just have a go and learn to laugh at yourself. How about keeping a diary of all the cooking and eating you’re doing including drawing or painting, crayoning, printing. If you find your taste buds have gone or you’re not feeling like eating, write or draw your frustrations… ‘the Frustration Monster!’ The ‘What If Monster’ is another idea to portray. It could perhaps be a 3D structure! Use stuff out of your garage or shed. Keep a scrapbook. Weave a wall hanging. Print with potatoes or just let your pencil have a wonderful doodle!’
  • Future Learn has courses available to help you manage your own mental health and support others who are struggling during this time. Find out more.

Other helpful articles:

Blythe House Hospicecare is increasing the level of community care to support the most vulnerable people as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The hospice is providing 24/7 end of life care in the comfort of patient’s homes. In addition, a team of hospice staff and volunteers is posting ‘kindness cards’ to let people know about support including shopping, prescription pick-ups, telephone chats and food parcels.

Nurses, counsellors and healthcare assistants are also on-hand to provide telephone support to all patients and their families.

Janet Dunphy, CEO, said: ‘Our community have supported us to develop to meet the increasing needs of people in the High Peak, and this is payback time, we will be there for them even more now. We are stronger together.

‘The well-being of the people we support, hospice visitors, staff and volunteers is our first priority and that’s why we are following advice and guidance issued by Public Health England and the UK Government.

‘At the present time, we are taking each day as it comes with regards to the ongoing situation. We have taken on-board Government advice and have made decisions to implement some changes to services whilst continuing to support the most isolated and vulnerable people in our local area.’

All non-essential meetings and sessions at the hospice or in the local community have been cancelled for the time being including coffee mornings; out-patient clinics; weekly support groups and walking for health sessions.

The hospice’s four chairty shops in Chapel-en-le-Frith, Buxton, New Mills and Whaley Bridge are all closed.

Janet added: ‘We are liaising closely with our event sponsors and co-organisers to determine what will happen to future fundraising events. National events that our supporters are involved in, like the London Marathon, have already been postponed. We will keep members of the public updated as soon as we have details of the plans going forward.’

If you or someone you know is feeling lonely or isolated due to the current situation, or you’d like to find out more about support from Blythe House, please contact Vicci Wild or Julie Forrest on 01298 816990.

Find out more via our dedicated coronavirus webpage.

Heading out to do some shopping or run errands over the coming weeks, you might notice some new faces that crop up regularly in shops and businesses across the High Peak and Hope Valley.

Blythe House Hospicecare is delighted to launch its new fundraising collection pots, displaying the beaming faces of dedicated hospice supporters.

More than 170 collection pots are dispersed across the community in places like banks, shops, cafés, pubs and companies, with members of the public donating spare change to help support their local hospice.

The generosity of local people, and the businesses that are proud to display Blythe House collection pots, helped the hospice to raise over £10,800 throughout 2018/19.

All these donations enable the Chapel-en-le-Frith hospice to continue to provide free care and services to local patients with illnesses including cancer, motor neurone disease, heart failure, COPD and Parkinson’s, as well as their carers and families.

Sally and Ben

Ben Hinchliffe fought cancer for much of his life including having leukaemia as a child before being diagnosed with bowel cancer. The former Frome resident moved to Chapel-en-le-Frith with his family in April 2017 and soon after started to access the services at Blythe House.

The passionate fundraiser had previously been actively involved in raising money for the cancer care centre at Royal United Hospitals in Bath, were he underwent treatment; he would volunteer alongside his mum, Sally to collect fundraising pots from local shops and businesses.

Ben was keen to be busy and always wanted to support Blythe House. He secured a job with the High Peak Food Bank through Zink Employability as a direct result of coming to the hospice.

‘He always felt at home at Blythe House; he gained an awful lot from coming here. When another shock hit him, he’d say “I’m going to Blythe!”’ explained Sally.

‘Ben had secured an apprenticeship role at a quarry in Bradwell through Zink, but sadly a week after accepting it, he had to tell them that he was no longer able to undertake the role as he was re-diagnosed with bowel cancer.’

Ben’s dad, Peter added: ‘He never said he would not get better – he always said: “I’ve done this before and I’ll do it again!”’

Sally said: ‘Ben tragically passed away in November 2018, aged just 36 years old. Blythe House continues to provide ongoing support to me and the rest of the family who’re still coming to terms with our loss.

‘Ben would’ve absolutely loved being the “face” of the Blythe House collection pots – he would’ve been honoured to have been asked. It is very ironic that we used to volunteer our time to collect fundraising pots when he was younger, and now his legacy lives on as he’ll actually be printed on the pots here in the High Peak!’

Collette and Kenzie

A good friend of Ben’s during his time in the Living Well service was fellow Chapel-en-le-Frith resident, Collette Russell. The 30-year-old who moved to the town from Fairfield, Buxton, started to attend Blythe House in April 2018, after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Collette, who has a 10-year-old son called Kenzie, said: ‘I visited the doctor several times from December 2014 to March the following year with different symptoms including a nasty cough and just generally feeling unwell. In July, I discovered a lump under my armpit so went to the GP again, where I was told it was a cyst that would just go away.

‘In October, in my role as a carer at a local nursing home, I was kicked in the stomach by a resident. It wasn’t a malicious kick, but I was in pain and was referred to Stepping Hill Hospital as I had a very high heart rate and temperature. Over the coming days, I underwent X-Rays and CT scans, before hospital doctors confirmed that I had a mediastinal mass in my chest [growths that form in the area that separates the lungs].

‘I underwent further tests including bone marrow and lymph node biopsies, as well as having four blood transfusions. On the 27th November 2015, I was told that I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and was transferred to The Christie Hospital where I underwent scans and started chemotherapy. In May 2016, I finished chemo and underwent a PET [Positron emission tomography] scan where no cancerous activity was found! I had some radiotherapy, and on 27th July 2016, exactly eight months since I was diagnosed with cancer; I rang the bell at The Christie for finishing all my treatment!

‘I went straight back to work being a full-time carer; I never really had time to think about what I’d been through, and just started back into “normal” life. But on the second anniversary of my diagnosis in October 2017, I felt so upset and desperately low. I went to the doctor who diagnosed me with severe depression; they also referred me to Blythe House.

‘At first I didn’t want to come here; I thought it was a hospice building full of old people who were dying. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. Here I have sought advice and support, and made friends for life; they are like my second family. It doesn’t matter what age people are – they range from their 30s to their 90s – we are all the very best of friends! Everyone has helped me through this really difficult time in my life; we can be ourselves here, we laugh and we can cry too. I took part in the Writing for Life group to put the words in my head down on paper about my illness, and the group still regularly meets up outside of the hospice to catch up and offer each other support.

‘I have also enjoyed complementary therapies to help me feel better in myself. I now suffer with vitiligo as a result of receiving chemotherapy; I am receiving counselling at Blythe House to come to terms with this; every time I look in the mirror at myself, there’s a constant reminder that I had cancer.

‘I was inspired by the beauty therapists at Blythe House to become one myself, to be able to offer treatments and therapies to people in similar situations. I started a course at the University of Derby in Buxton in September 2019, and hope to be able to come to Blythe House when I’m qualified to be able to treat the patients.

The Tollertons’

‘The nurses nominated me to be the “face of” the collection pots; I was so pleased! It’s bittersweet because Ben and I got on so, so well. I was so low when he died. He really understood what I went through – but he was never phased by illness – he’d always say “I’m going to fight it!” I’m really proud to be on the collection pots alongside Ben. It’s my way of being able to give just a little something back to Blythe House for all it has done for me.’

Rebecca and Mark Tollerton, and their children, Amelia and George, from Dove Holes also feature on the new collection pots. Read their Blythe House story.

Keith and Margaret

Keith Bolton accessed hospice services for his wife, Margaret after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Keith and Margaret, from Glossop, also have a photo displayed on the new pots. Read their story.

If you would like to house a Blythe House collection box in your shop or local business, please call: 01298 815 388 or email: fundraising@blythehouse.co.uk