Borough's hospice nominates its unsung heroes of Covid-19 pandemic

Generous staff and volunteers at Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH) have sung the praises of residents they feel deserve to be recognised.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 9:48 am
Updated Monday, 1st March 2021, 9:50 am
Wigan and Leigh Hospice gardener Jim Nicholson

The hospice was asked to suggest Wigan and Leigh residents who deserve a moment in the limelight and came up with a long list of people who have gone the extra mile at a tough time.

Employees, volunteers, whole organisations working in partnership with the Hindley-based hospice and charity fund-raisers are among those who have been applauded.

Wigan Today is currently celebrating everything that is good about our borough through our We Are Wigan campaign, which has also sought to recognise the heroes of lockdown and a year battling Covid-19.

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Debbie Jones (right) at a Hospice in your Care Home awards night

WLH is an extremely popular organisation for the state-of-the-art care it provides residents with life-limiting conditions in their own homes and at its Kildare Street headquarters.

Hundreds of people from across the borough step up to do fund-raising activities for it every year to enable it to continue its work.

And that public support has been recognised, with the hospice’s army of fund-raisers and people who give up their time to help it nominated by one WLH member of staff.

The employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “I would like to nominate the kind and selfless people of the borough who every day send their donations, their kind words and most of all, their best wishes and prayers to us all here at the hospice.

WLH clinical director Jo Carby

“It never ceases to amaze me how generous the people and the families of Wigan are. People have saved their pocket money, saved money during the pandemic and generally done things and raised money to lift the spirits of people around them in these difficult times, all for the great cause of the hospice.

“The thing that inspires me most are the kind words that are sent along with the donations, there is many a time I have a tear in my eye and all for the right reasons. I would like to thank each and every person for their kindness, for uplifting our spirits and for giving us faith in all the good they do, we are extremely grateful. Long may it continue!”

Hospice receptionist Margaret Atkinson also hailed the charity’s many volunteers as well as its trustees.

She said: “Their cheerfulness and kindness lifted everyone’s spirits through these difficult days. They have been amazing!”

Becca Shaw with her son Bowen

Jen Naylor, the hospice’s volunteer co-ordinator, also praised those who give up their time to help.

She said: “Our volunteers are at the heart of the hospice at all times but this pandemic has shown us even more how vital they are.

“We could not provide the services and support that we do to so many people in the local community without our volunteers helping us.

“The willingness to cover additional shifts, to help out in other areas and general comradery has truly been heart-warming and has proved invaluable to us during these times. Thank you for all that you do.

Teenage fund-raiser Maisie Halliwell

“To those who have been unable to volunteer, we thank you for your service, for keeping safe and we look forward to seeing you back at the hospice when the time is right.

Hospice chief executive Dr Alan Baron was similarly impressed by the charity’s partner organisations.

He said: “The hospice is incredibly grateful for the support and partnership-working that we have seen through the year which has enabled the hospice to be fully integrated into the local health and social care system throughout the pandemic allowing us to offer our expert care to people across the borough when they need it.”

Ms Naylor also gave nominations to both the reception staff on the front desk and the hospice’s team of ambulance drivers.

She said: “Our wonderful reception team have supported staff and volunteers throughout this pandemic. They have continually gone above and beyond; from keeping in contact with volunteers, to moving furniture, to creating and putting up posters, they have done so without complaint.

“Working in an ever-changing environment has been somewhat challenging but their commitment and dedication is something to be commended.

“We have had a small number of ambulance drivers whom have continued to support the hospice throughout the pandemic, collecting PPE, delivering items to the hospital, even delivering ukuleles! They have done whatever has been asked of them and their dedication has been greatly appreciated throughout these challenging times.”

Individual staff members at WLH have also been congratulated.

Community hospice nurse specialist Denise Penney thanked ICT support officer Keith Jones.

She said: “Keith is always helpful and very quick to respond to our pleas for help. He is cheerful and funny too.

“I personally ask some dumb questions but he never makes you feel like you are stupid! He works so hard and always sorts out our problems. He is an unrecognised hero in the hospice.”

Mr Jones was also one of a number of people and organisations hailed by bereavement service volunteer Ann Parr.

She said: “I would like to thank Keith Jones and Brian Jackson for their patient explanations and technical expertise which has allowed me and some of the other volunteers on the bereavement support team to work from home, keeping one of the hospice’s services active during the pandemic.

“I would also like to recognise Soroptimist International Wigan which, despite limited opportunities for fund-raising during the months of Covid-19 restrictions, has been able to donate over £1,000 to the hospice.”

Hospice in Your Care Home educator Monica McCahery nominated the team’s manager Debbie Jones.

She said: “I would like to nominate Debbie for all her hard work and dedication to upskilling the team to provide virtual palliative and end of life care education and support to all 54 care homes, extra care facilities and various agencies within the borough.

“She is a true champion and inspiration to us all in the team and has remained positive and very supportive of us all in this current climate of uncertainty and unpredictability.”

Ms McCahery also had kind words for hospice gardener Jim Nicholson.

She said: “He works tirelessly in the hospice gardens to ensure they are well cared for and looked after despite the weather conditions. He is a real asset to the hospice team and so dedicated to his work.

“The fruits of his labour are beginning to bud again as spring approaches and we look forward to the gardens being in full bloom for summer – a true sign that life carries on even in dark uncertain times. Hope springs eternal in the heart of every gardener.”

In-patient unit staff nurse Emily Knight nominated for healthcare assistant Karen Morris.

Emily said: “Karen has worked on the inpatient unit throughout the Covid pandemic, as have a lot of staff. She has always shown positivity throughout and is always someone who has been approachable regardless of other stresses that might be going on.

“She has routinely changed her shifts at short notice covering extra shifts to meet the needs of the inpatient unit. She has the most amazing and caring persona and is a huge asset to the hospice.”

Staff nurse Heather Dainty has had a particularly eventful year and this was highlighted by apprentice advanced clinical practitioner Sarah Edwards.

Sarah said: “Heather found out she was pregnant in the first lockdown. Since then she has worked throughout her whole pregnancy on the inpatient Unit.

“For many weeks now she has been more office-based, completely altering her work duties and coordinating shifts to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

“She worked her last shift last Monday, before going on maternity leave at 38 weeks pregnant.”

The bosses have also been thanked for their leadership, with clinical director Jo Carby praised by deputy inpatient manager Hannah Holmes.

Hannah said: “Jo has confidently led the team through the many changes we have had to adopt into our practice, whilst maintaining the same standards of excellent care that we strive to provide.

"She has always been on the end of the telephone for advice when needed and has always put the needs of the hospice, and its staff, before her own.”

Other hospice staff chose to highlight the work of people outside the organisation.

Volunteer receptionist Glenda Brown spoke about Jackie Rickers, an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Wigan Infirmary.

She said: “She has never stopped and is a great example of the NHS. She has always been careful on infection control, and as she has been working with Covid on ICU all through, her family are not even allowed into her car as she doesn’t want to pass anything on to family or visa versa.”

Inpatient unit healthcare assistant Sue Callaghan said her unsung hero was teenage fund-raiser Maisie Halliwell, who lost her long locks for a good cause.

She said: “Maisie is 15 and in year 10 at Westleigh High School in Leigh. I think she deserves to be recognised for the amount she raised for the hospice, a fabulous £1,250, after having her hair cut and donating the hair to the children’s charity to make wigs. She chose the hospice in honour of her nan Mary Halliwell. Well done Maisie.”

Community fund-raiser Christine Edwardson chose to put in the spotlight Becca Shaw who previously set up social media page Bowen Rocks and has been working to make her neighbourhood a better place.

She said: “Becca put herself forward to the council to take over a rundown playground in Hindley. She was up against other organisations and she won. This all happened as the pandemic hit but this didn’t stop her - she worked day in day out, clearing out, painting, cleaning and building with help of a small number of volunteers.

“Becca has made this rundown piece of land into a beautiful place and a safe haven for children. She now can’t wait until she can welcome everyone in after the pandemic.

“Becca doesn’t get paid for this - it is all voluntary. Becca is a true inspiration.”

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