I spent 11 years fighting the Blythe House cause, helping to raise much-needed funds to continue to provide free care and services to those who really need them. I never thought that one day; I’d be on the other side of the fence, ringing the hospice to say “please help me.”

Vickie Wilson worked at Blythe House for over a decade, and remains a dedicated fundraising and events volunteer, as well as providing the most delicious cheesecakes to raise vital funds at our monthly coffee mornings.

Her Mum, Lynne, and Dad, Bill, were involved in the initial meeting to discuss fundraising for a High Peak hospice, back when Blythe House was founded in 1989. The family has continued to support Blythe House throughout its 30 years of service, by sponsoring newsletters, events and other fundraising initiatives.

Vickie never realised that one day, it might be her making the urgent phone call for help when Bill was diagnosed with heart failure, and Blythe House was able to provide specialist care when he needed it the most…

Vickie explained: ‘I started working at Blythe House in 2007 as a general secretary; helping with admin, care services and counselling. After a year I moved into the fundraising office, taking care of the banking, thank you notes to kind-hearted donors, community work, and events. My Dad was a prominent local businessman and would regularly donate money or gifts in kind to Blythe House including sponsorship of a carer’s day, and our monthly newsletters.

‘In 2015, Dad had a bad year; he collapsed and suffered a heart attack. He was in and out of hospital and had to have a TAVI (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation) installed. The following year, Dad started to attend the Living Well service at Blythe House and enjoyed coming to weekly sessions where he met Foday Kamara, a spiritual care volunteer and Minister at Chinley Independent Chapel. The friendship he struck up with Foday turned out to be very special and profound.

‘Dad finished with the Living Well service but unfortunately in December 2018, I didn’t feel that he was getting the care and support that he deserved from outside sources, and so I made an appointment with Blythe House to see how the services might have been able to help him further. The team put a plan in place and Dad was visited at home by nursing staff, and Dr Sarah Parnacott, who runs a weekly palliative medicine clinic at Blythe House.

‘A few weeks later during one of her visits, Dr Parnacott told us that Dad’s health was deteriorating rapidly and some professional overnight care was quickly arranged with Blythe House’s Hospice at Home team. That night, Sheila [Darcey, Hospice at Home Healthcare Assistant] came at 10pm, and Foday also visited Dad to do Communion and have some quiet time. Dad died very peacefully at 10.50pm surrounded by his family.

‘Sheila asked my Mum and the family: “Would you like me to stay with you?” The answer was a resounding “yes.” We had a group hug and drank lots of tea and coffee. Sheila checked on Dad every half an hour or so; she was there with the doctor when the death was certified, and she oversaw everything with the funeral directors. Sheila has kept in contact since too, and came to Dad’s funeral.

‘I know that many people will have a story to tell about the amazing Hospice at Home service at Blythe House, and that most of those people will have their very own “Sheila” in their lives. She really was one in a million; she took the pain and anguish of losing Dad away, and was there to support us during the most difficult time; we couldn’t have coped without her.

‘I spent 11 years fighting the Blythe House cause, helping to raise much-needed funds to continue to provide free care and services to those who really need them. I never thought that one day; I’d be on the other side of the fence, ringing the hospice to say “please help me.”

‘I’d urge everyone in the local area to put their hand in their pockets and support Blythe House in whatever way they can. It may not be through cash donations but gifts in kind towards services or events, or volunteering your time to support its wonderful care; you really never know when you might need its services. For Dad, who had supported Blythe House throughout its history, it was there for him when he truly needed it and we will be forever grateful.’