Wigan woman beats sepsis and pneumonia to launch her annual Christmas fund-raiser

Janice and Justin with some of their decorations
Janice and Justin with some of their decorations

An inspirational couple are so determined to help others this Christmas that not even a serious illness can stand in their way.

Janice and Justin Hinden, from Poolstock, make festive decorations throughout the year, which they sell to raise money for good causes supporting people in need.

Janice with some of their decorations

Janice with some of their decorations

Last year they collected £7,000 to buy food, toys and other items for Billinge-based The Storehouse Project and Wigan’s social services.

They have been working throughout this year to make more festive items, including large snowmen, reindeer and even rainbow-coloured Christmas trees for members of the LGBT community.

But their annual fund-raiser looked in doubt when Janice became seriously ill.

After feeling unwell for a couple of weeks, she ended up at Wigan Infirmary where she was diagnosed with cryptogenic organising pneumonia, a very rare strain of the illness, as well as sepsis.

Janice had to spend two weeks on a life support machine, with Justin, 49, at her side.

Fortunately, she was released from hospital after six weeks and has been recovering at home for the past few weeks.

But there is a long road ahead, as she has to learn to walk again and has been warned it could take two years to recover fully.

Janice, 52, said: “I’m doing absolutely marvellously. I can’t thank Wigan hospital enough. Nothing was too much trouble for them.”

Despite facing such a serious illness, Janice is determined to continue with the fund-raising efforts, dubbed A Christmas Wish.

She said: “When I was in a coma, on life support, my mum asked my husband what would happen to the Christmas Wish and he said we would have to cancel.

“People in comas can hear what’s being said because my face went bright red and I started gurgling.”

Luckily, their hard work during the year meant they had already made plenty of items when Janice became ill.

They have made all kinds of crafts, from small decorations to large snowmen.

Janice has even returned to making the items in recent weeks to help build up the strength in her hands.

The festive goods will be sold on stalls in Wigan town centre and at supermarkets over the coming months, starting on Saturday and Sunday at The Galleries.

Surprisingly, they have had to push the sales back by just one week due to Janice’s illness.

However, she warns the outdoor stalls will be weather-dependant due to her current health.

But Janice is still determined to do what she can to make a difference.

She said: “There are so many people who need our help.

“A lot more need our help than people realise. People depend on parcels like those from The Storehouse.”

The couple hope to raise £5,000, but would really like to surpass last year’s £7,000.

They have already been buying food and toys during the year, which will be put towards the parcels they give to the two organisations for distribution.

Janice thanked everyone who has supported the couple’s efforts in recent years and encouraged them to visit the stall again.

They will be at The Galleries this weekend, with stalls in Wigan town centre, at Tesco in Wigan and at Asda in Newtown in coming weeks.