Springtime at the Hospice

Spring has officially begun at Weston Hospicecare. The daffodils that we planted in the grounds of our future home have bloomed, we’ve seen the return of the popular Easter raffle and we’re counting down the seconds to our springtime fundraising events.

On the 19th April 2,000 multicolour footprints will line the sands of Weston-super-Mare as our Colour Run event returns for its second year. In 2014 our runners (joggers and walkers) raised £45,000 for the Hospice – can we beat that this year?

Another event hoping to raise vital funds for the Hospice is the Mendip Challenge, now in its 26th year! We’re looking forward to seeing our supporters set off on their 30, 20 or 10 mile walks through the Somerset countryside.

If you’d like to help us give the best possible care to local people living with life limiting illnesses, but don’t fancy getting messy with paint or hobbling over hills, then why not set up a Weston Hospicecare Lottery membership? For just £1 a play you could win up to £2,000 every week – and fancy your chances in our quarterly superdraw!

However you choose to support the Hospice just know that our patients and staff are so grateful.


Join the Mendip Challenge 2015

It’s time to dust off those walking boots (or trainers!), get hiking for a great cause. The Mendip challenge is back on Sunday 31st May.

If you have never joined us for this event before, what have you been doing?! The Mendip Challenge is an exciting sponsored event for those looking to have fun, challenge themselves and raise vital funds for Weston Hospicecare.

Last year the event raised £40,000 – this money could cover the costs of running the Day Hospice for ten whole weeks.

June Burgess, 82, wishes to thank those who take part: “Without events like the Mendip Challenge the funds wouldn’t be available to run Day Hospice, and being able to come here is just amazing! It’s so relaxing, and everybody is very friendly. I always see kind, smiling faces and nothing is ever too much trouble – I feel like a queen!”

There are three walking routes to choose from 30 miles, 20 miles and 10 miles which take you through the stunning hills. Or perhaps you’d prefer to do the 5 mile fun walk on the beach where fancy dress is encouraged?

Since the Mendip Challenge started in 1991 we have raised an incredible amount. If you fancy being a part of this year’s contribution on Sunday 31st May simply fill out the online registration form or call us on .

Wellbeing Centre – 9 months on!

In June 2014 Weston Hospicecare expanded its patient services with the opening of the Wellbeing Centre. Since then Alison Bailey, the Hospice’s Complementary Therapy Coordinator, has given treatments to over 420 people.

The Wellbeing Centre, a separate building in the grounds of the Hospice in Uphill, acts as a hub for the complementary therapies that patients and their carers may receive free of charge.

Alison, who manages the Wellbeing Centre, explains that the therapies are not pampering sessions but specialist services which provide patients with many benefits.

“It is extremely common for a person living with a life-limiting illness to go through feelings of low body image. The patient’s self esteem can be affected greatly, and these therapies are designed with that in mind.”

Alison and her team of trained volunteers visit approximately 70 patients a month.

“It’s a very busy role,” Alison comments. “The service is not exclusive to the Wellbeing Centre, and I’m often seeing patients in their homes, attending support groups or treating patients on the In-patient Unit to help with pain control and anxiety.”

“I also give treatments to the carers of Hospice patients. Quite often they will visit me at the Wellbeing Centre, which provides a peaceful break for them on an afternoon.”

Weston Hospicecare has plans to introduce new therapies to the Wellbeing Centre. Alison has recently qualified in Hypnotherapy, which has been noted for its relaxation benefits.

“When the body is in a deep, restful state it can help to control pain and boost self confidence”, remarks Alison.

The patients at the Wellbeing Centre are encouraged to leave feedback following a session of treatment. Alison comments: “The majority of comments talk about how relaxed the patient felt and how they will be able to cope better when they’re at home.”

“There is one comment in particular that stays in my mind, where a patient told me that by receiving these therapies it had helped them through their “darkest hours”. You can’t begin to understand how valuable these words are to hear.”

It will cost over £29,600 to provide these therapy services this year. By setting up a Regular Gift you can help Weston Hospicecare plan for the future, and ensure that Alison and her team will be caring for your local community for years to come

Weston Colour Run returns!

North Somerset’s only colour run is bigger and bolder than before. Weston Colour Run made its debut in April 2014 and we’re thrilled to be holding the event again this year.

In 2014 a phenomenal £47,000 was raised by the 1,500 participants who ran the 5k route down Weston’s beach. The event kicks off in kaleidoscopic style on Uphill Beach with a mass paint throwing session before the runners hit the start point. The route takes participants down to the Grand Pier, and then back to the beginning in a loop.

Vikki Page, from Taunton, took part in the fundraising event last year A few of us from work had recently mastered running 5k  so when we saw that we could put our skills to use and raise some money for a local charity we jumped at the chance. My father spent some time in a hospice towards the end of his life so for me there was even more reason to join in.

“The atmosphere on the beach before we set off was brilliant, who’d have thought grown adults could enjoy colouring each other up quite so much!  I would thoroughly recommend anyone to take part in Weston Colour Run; you’ll never do anything else quite like it!”


Do you fancy making your mark on the Hospice’s fundraising efforts? Participants can register here online.

Weston Colour Run 2015 will be held on Sunday 19th April.

The end of a very busy year

I can hardly believe this year has flown by so quickly! It is due largely to the fact that we have had one of our busiest years in a long time.

There have been Birthday celebrations galore, culminating in a beautiful Service of Celebration at the Winter Gardens in September. It was fabulous to see so many of you there celebrating with us. New events were added to the calendar and we were bowled over by the success of the Weston Colour Run in April! The Shop Upstairs popped up on Weston’s High Street and ‘re:made for Weston Hospicecare’ our shabby chic furniture line raised £10,000 in just six months. BWOC gave us a tanker – sort of – and we announced our intention to move to a new property in Winscombe. No wonder our heads are spinning!

At the heart of everything we do and everything we have been doing for 25 years are our patients and their families.

Over the years we have cared for thousands of people who have been told they have an illness they will not recover from – news that comes with uncertainty, anxiety and often great emotional and physical pain. We help patients to manage their pain, offering advice and guidance to help them understand and cope with those feelings. We offer comfort, safety and assurance so that no family is alone in managing a life-limiting illness and can make the most of every day they have left together.

This Winter, our newsletter is dedicated to them and their stories. It takes bravery and strength to share a story so personal and we are so grateful to Stephanie, Graham, Sarah, Sylvia and John for their honesty.

Stephanie spoke at our 25th Birthday Service of Celebration and made such an impact on us all. Since her husband Douglas passed away she has devoted herself to fundraising for the Hospice and she is a fantastic and inspirational lady. We also hear from Norma, our Physiotherapist, who has an exciting new piece of kit to help patients’ mobility and Alison, our Complementary Therapist, gives an update on the Wellbeing Centre which is sitting proud in the Hospice grounds and working at full capacity.

2014 will leave me with some of my fondest memories of Weston Hospicecare. I have been so privileged to watch our community rally behind the Hospice at every announcement, event and request for help. Thank you for those memories, thank you for supporting us again with the vital work we do and I look forward to seeing you all again next year.

Seasons greetings and best wishes to you all


Sylvia and John


When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, my husband left me. It was a difficult time which I somehow got through and the cancer went into remission.

Happily, in 2004, I met John and we enjoyed a wonderful 4 years together. Not long after we moved to Weston in 2008 I was finding it really hard to breathe and John insisted I go to A&E. They did some tests; it was secondary cancer of the lungs.

I didn’t want to have chemotherapy again as it had been a bit of a rough ride last time, but I had to. It was stronger this time.

In 2013 I had a mini-stroke and was referred to the Hospice. I saw Dr Helen and Dr Julian who were both lovely. I also met my Hospice Community Nurse Specialist, Wendy. There would be no more treatment, just a focus on quality of life.

I started going to Day Hospice. I didn’t think I would be able to do it but then I got talking to people and got to know them. At Day Hospice I get a chance to reflect. The inspiration, love and care everyone gives you is something that pulls you in. The people there are my friends, whether they are patients or staff or volunteers and I can’t even begin to express how much they mean to me, or how much they’ve done for us.

John has been so good, he never loses patience. We’ve been together 10 years and he does everything he can for me to make things better. He found it really hard to do ’Planning Ahead’ – when we made decisions for when I am gone – but now we sit and talk about what’s going to happen. I told him I don’t want black at my funeral. It needs to be colourful, with lots of music because I love it!

I want to go having enjoyed my life. I have travelled the world and I will never regret one minute I’ve spent with John, he is my everything.

I know that the Hospice will be there to support and in return I know he will continue to support the Hospice even after I’ve gone.


When Sylvia was diagnosed it was a shock. It happened just when everything was going right and it just felt like a kick in the teeth. When I heard ‘lung cancer’ I thought that’s it. Sylvia’s biggest fear was that I would leave her but I told her that I would always be there, right by her side.

I also wanted to make sure that we really enjoyed the time we had together so we went away on holidays all over Europe.

Now too much travelling makes Sylvia tired for our Europe holidays so in between her going to Day Hospice we go to Brixham, it’s become ‘our’ place.

Wendy comes round to talk things through with Sylvia and it’s a good chance for me to listen and ask questions.

When you think of a Hospice you think it’s a sad place, but it’s not like that at all. I couldn’t have asked for better care for Sylvia, they’ve helped her with controlling the pain, they are always a phone call away, and they’ve been fantastic. Sylvia is the bravest woman I have ever met and I love her to bits for the person she is.

I am so glad that we came to Weston and that the doctors and nurses at the Hospice were there for us.

Be inspired to run!

Graham Welch was diagnosed with secondary lung cancer in September 2013. When the cancer spread he was referred to Weston Hospicecare where he attended Day Hospice until he died in December 2013. Graham started running when he was 44 and completed 25 marathons and countless other running challenges raising a total of £10,000 for various charities. He told us why before he died.

I decided to run when I saw an advert in the paper: ‘Do you want to run a marathon?’ I thought to myself, yes I do. So I started training. I found it very difficult and nearly didn’t make it but I pushed through and I was proud to have achieved it.

Ever since that I have completed running challenges all over the world, including 15 London Marathons. I completed my last one when I was 67. The real buzz I used to get when I was running was being able to overtake younger people in front of me!

I would really encourage anyone to run and to raise money for Weston Hospicecare. I was really apprehensive when the Oncology department suggested I might like to attend Day Hospice. I didn’t know what to expect but they helped me deal with a lot of issues. In a short space of time I have learned to talk and to listen to people in a different way. I find it easier now to talk to my wife about how I’m feeling and find I can talk about what is happening.

Graham’s daughter Sarah Bowdler was inspired by her Dad. Along with her family she took on the Weston Colour Run this year and she recently completed the first ever Severn Bridge Half Marathon with her son Tobie. She raised money for the Hospice in memory of her Dad.

It was dad’s fault I got into running, in fact he got us all into it! For my first marathon Mum and Dad came to watch. Dad used to help me train, he’d cycle behind me carrying the water and talking nonsense just to keep me going.

As hard as it was, dad didn’t lose any of his dignity he still got up and went out while he could, he was himself right up until the end. He loved Day Hospice, he used to talk about it all the time. Towards the end Dad was in the In-patient Unit at the Hospice, between the 4 of us we never left him once. The nurses were absolutely amazing and took brilliant care of him.

This year they set up the first Severn Bridge half marathon, it was the one run Dad would’ve done if he was still here so myself and Tobie decided to do it together. It was a way to do our bit for the Hospice and say thank you – I know dad would have liked that. So far we have raised over £1,000; it’s our way of ensuring that other people can receive the same level of care and support that Dad did.

Dad always believed in DDC –Dedication, Determination and Commitment – that, along with encouragement from others, and you can do anything.

A Carer’s Carer

Stephanie Hancorn’s husband, Douglas, was supported by the Hospice. When his condition grew worse Stephanie found herself as his carer. She received support from the Hospice on numerous occasions during Douglas’ illness and afterwards. She is now a Hospice Community Companion, helping others who may be caring for loved ones with a life-limiting illness.

“We were on holiday in Scotland. We had only been there a few days and we were walking up a slope to a viewing point. We had invited our friend along and when Douglas had trouble getting up the slope myself and our friend helped him; it was then we knew something was wrong.

We went to see our GP who sent Douglas for some tests. The results showed Douglas had cancer of the bone. It was like a bomb went off. I think we both went into denial and we found it really difficult telling the children. We had to travel to Bristol for Douglas to undergo his radiotherapy which made him very tired. It was also a shock when his hair turned from brown to white.

Our GP had referred us to the Hospice and we met Sue Gerry, Douglas’ Hospice Community Nurse Specialist. When we were told it would just be pain relief and T.L.C. I became Douglas’ fulltime carer. I went to a course run by Sue which gave me new skills like how to manage Douglas’ nutrition and fatigue. It also helped being with people in a similar situation.

Douglas never wanted to talk about it, it was something he had and we were dealing with it. When you’ve been such a strong person and see the look on his face and are not able to doing anything about it, it’s awful.

After Douglas passed away I felt lost. I was invited to a ‘Buddy Group’ by a lady I met at Sue’s Carer’s Course. She had been in the same situation with her husband. It was a chance to talk to people who were going through bereavement like me.

When I found out about being a volunteer Community Companion I knew it would be my way of giving something back for all the support Douglas and I had received from the Hospice. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they’re alone, I’m always a phone call away. I want to be there solely for the carer if they need someone to speak to and help them to access any support they need. I like to think of myself as a carer’s carer.”

You care about Hospice Care

During Hospice Care Week we asked you to join us in our mission and care about Hospicecare. Lots of you did! From sharing pictures and comments on facebook, reading the inspirational stories on our website, making donations – online, by text or at one of our supermarket collections – and getting involved with our shops, who ran their own mini events to get everyone involved in this very special awareness week. Thank you for doing your bit to support us!

If you’d like to carry on raising awareness for the Hospice and encourage others to do so as well, we have some ‘I care about Hospicecare’ window stickers available now in all our shops. Display it with pride and be a Weston Hospicecare ambassador!

Hospice patients get on their bike!

As part of the Department of Health grant we were able to purchase a special exercise bike for our patients to use with our Physiotherapist, Norma.

“It is brilliant and can help our patients in so many ways. The bike itself helps to exercise arms or legs and can be done from the comfort of an armchair or wheelchair. Almost any of our patients can use the bike by choosing a level that suits their ability; it means patients can put as much or as little work in as they can. The passive mode allows people who have little or no movement to enjoy the feeling of their muscles and joints moving, a lot of patients find this relaxing. This is particularly beneficial for patients with neurological illnesses as they are able to feel movement that they wouldn’t normally experience.

The bike can help physically in many ways – to loosen up and strengthen muscles and joints, help with fatigue, breathlessness, anxiety and help with circulation counteracting the consequences of lack of movement. The bike can also improve a patient’s mental and physical wellbeing. Bren, one of our Day Hospice patients, used to be very active. He has found it to be very helpful in restoring his fitness and confidence.”

Bren said “I have found the bike very helpful and motivational. I used to cycle regularly but not so much now with the circumstances. It’s been a great substitute, it’s not like a normal bike but it has helped to get my fitness up for a walking holiday I went on in Cornwall and brought my confidence back to get on my bike!”