Christmas is a wonderful time to celebrate and have fun, but can be very lonely and difficult for those patients who are dealing with the treatments and effects of illnesses such as cancer.
Willowbrook Hospice has been supporting the people of Knowsley and St Helens to live every day in the best way possible, providing not just excellent palliative care but putting on events to help to make precious memories for families living with cancer.
Willowbrook recently hosted a Candlelight Supper, transforming the wellbeing area into a beautiful restaurant for the evening. The tables were laid with flowers and candles, soft music and delicious food; but it was the gardens that stole the show.
“I couldn’t believe it!” says Lynn, who has been living with cancer for over nine years. “The gardens looked magical with all of the fairy lights in the trees. When we arrived, there were candles edging the pathways leading us to “Chez Willowbrook”, and coloured lights shining up into the bushes.
“Fairy lights sparkled everywhere, and there were even crystal chandeliers in the trees! Having cancer can feel very lonely, and make you feel like you are in a dark place. At the candlelight supper, with a glass of wine in hand, it was so comforting to look out into the darkness, and see all of the Christmas lights like sparks of hope.
“Over the past nine and a half years I’ve gone through several treatments for cancer, the most recent being in April this year when I had an operation at Aintree Hospital for a growth in my neck which was related to my original diagnosis in 2009 of ovarian cancer.
“I’m currently attending the day therapy sessions at Willowbrook which are a complete inspiration to me! People who haven’t been to the hospice often think it’s going to be depressing but it’s anything but! The staff and all the volunteers are amazing and I’ve met some fantastic people there as well as enjoying the craft classes, massages and relaxation sessions. It has kept me going.”
Lynn, who has a beautiful soprano voice, has also raised over £10000 by organising concerts in support of Willowbrook Hospice.
Willowbrook Hospice has been open for 21 years, and the gardens have changed and developed over the years. Always mindful that the gardens might be the last thing that people enjoy with their families, the gardening team try to make them as beautiful and accessible as possible. There are different areas to explore, including Japanese gardens, kitchen garden and wildflower areas. The gardens were open as part of the NGS scheme for the first this year, helping to raise funds for caring and nursing charities. This year the gardens also won the prestigious North West In Bloom Gold Award and the coveted Best Hospice Garden award.
More information about hospices can be found at www.hospiceuk.org and details about the NGS Open Garden Scheme at www.ngs.org.uk. Please support your local hospice this Christmas, and help to make precious lasting memories for families who could be spending their last Christmas together.