Severn Hospice marked 20 years of providing nursing and medical care to people throughout Shropshire this week with an anniversary fun day at Hodnet Hall Gardens.
And the Advertiser takes a look at how the charity has provided huge help to one Market Drayton couple.
Severn Hospice celebrates its 20th anniversary on July 12, and a variety of events to mark the occasion are taking place across the region throughout the year.
The dream of a hospice to serve the people of Shropshire and Mid Wales began in 1981 when its late founder, Sheila Laws, issued a challenge and launched a fundraising campaign.
Local people, businesses and organisations throughout the region immediately threw their support behind the idea.
Work began in 1987 on the first hospice in Shrewsbury, with the first patients admitted in July 1989.
Since then, the services provided by Severn Hospice have expanded, with nursing care available in patients’ own homes.
Specialist teams help with benefit claims, adapting a home to enable a patient to remain independent, or offering comforting therapies such as massage and reflexology.
The hospice is also a training facility, helping medical professionals, care home workers and individual carers to develop their skills.
Referrals increase every year and support is offered not only to patients, but also to their families.
Counselling is given to patients and relatives for as long as it is needed, with specialist support available for bereaved children.
Severn Hospice has made a huge difference in the lives of many Market Drayton residents and the opening of a new site in Telford two years ago has made services even more accessible.
In the last five years alone, 145 new patients have been referred from the town, with a further 377 also referred from the surrounding area.
Among them was Jason McCombs, aged 38, whose first contact with the Severn Hospice was in 2008.
He spent two weeks as an in-patient but now attends the day hospice once a week, as well as receiving help at home.
“It does make a big difference to me, to my wife and carer Janet, and our two girls,” Jason said.
“When I come home, I’m more relaxed and if there are any problems, you’ve got doctors and nurses there who know what they’re doing.
“They don’t leave you on your own, they walk alongside you and I just can’t fault them.
“They’ve given me a recliner chair, a table and a hospital bed because I get short of breath easily so they’ve put a chair on the stairs.
“They don’t just send you home and forget about you, they’re there.”
Jason’s wife, Janet McCombs, aged 34, said: “It’s nice to know you’re not on your own and if you’re having a bad day, they stick a bit closer to you.
“We’ve had more support from the hospice social worker and nurses than we’ve had in the two years since Jason got diagnosed with cancer.
“We stayed together in the room and it was absolutely fantastic.
“I’m so glad the doctor referred us to the Hospice because they treat you so well and it’s just like an extension of your own family.
“They also did a 16th birthday party for one of our daughters and she stayed over for a couple of nights with Jason as well.
Jason summed up how his family feel about the Hospice when he said: “The staff, receptionists, nurses, doctors and volunteers - all these people put their time in, just for the sake of one person.
“It makes a big difference.”
The people of Market Drayton have made an enormous contribution to the ongoing work of Severn Hospice through the town’s support group which has raised more than £210,000 since 1989.
A Market Drayton Supporters’ Club has raised a further £32,000.
Severn Hospice relies on public fundraising for more than two-thirds of its income and is quick to recognise the support Market Drayton people have given to it.
Community Fundraising Manager Lucy Proctor added the charity is grateful for the public’s help.
She said:“We have 640 hospice lottery members in Market Drayton alone and have received several generous legacies from residents in the last few years.
“An annual street collection which is organised by hospice supporter Peggy Jones is always well supported and we’ve also had help from organisations such as Market Drayton Rotary Club.
“Every donation we receive, whether small or large, makes a difference to our work as for every £1 given, 92p goes directly to patient care.”
Severn Hospice now provides care for more than 2,500 patients a year, as well as providing support for their families.
Misconceptions about its work can make initial referrals an upsetting experience, but by raising understanding of the work done and the positive difference it makes, Severn Hospice hopes to remove the fear and worry associated with such an important time.
For more information on the work of Severn Hospice call the Appeals Office on 01952 221351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Winston Brown