Digging in with Sheffield hospice milestone

A sod cutting ceremony takes place at St Luke's Hospice. From left, Lauren Bennett, healthcare assistant, Alex Pettifer, chair of board, Derek Spencer and staff nurse Beth Wright
A sod cutting ceremony takes place at St Luke's Hospice. From left, Lauren Bennett, healthcare assistant, Alex Pettifer, chair of board, Derek Spencer and staff nurse Beth Wright
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WORK is well under way to transform St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield into a state-of-the-art treatment centre for people with terminal illnesses.

The old administration centre at the Whirlow facility has been demolished and cleared away and now builders are preparing to start constructing a modern 20-bed inpatient unit.

St Luke’s staff and supporters gathered yesterday to mark the milestone with a sod-cutting ceremony at Little Common Lane.

Guest of honour was Derek Spencer, whose brother Tony passed away at St Luke’s last year, aged just 56.

Derek, 59, has got behind The Star’s campaign to help the charity revamp its facilities.

Funds have already come pouring in to help build the £5.5 million unit.

Some 184 readers have responded to The Star’s £100,000 appeal, donating a total of £8,677 so far.

Derek, an engineering equipment salesman from Batemoor, said: “This expansion is brilliant news.

“St Luke’s has been here for 41 years and is starting to get a little dated. It needs upgrading.

“The private rooms in the new unit are very important.

“It’s about privacy but also about dignity.”

Derek’s brother Tony, from Beauchief, spent his last three months at St Luke’s after a battle with oesophageal cancer.

Derek said: “The staff were brilliant, they did everything they could to make him comfortable. It was a home from home for him.

“They also helped the family - Tony’s wife Heather was here 99 per cent of the time and they gave her all the support they could. “Right up to the end they looked after Tony - there’s nothing else they could have done.”

After Tony’s death last April, leaving a son and daughter in their 20s, Derek pledged to do everything he could to raise money for the hospice.

He organised an attempt to break a world darts record with a million-point 46-hour match, and his nephew arranged a charity golf day.

Altogether, Derek’s family have raised thousands.

“I’m very proud to be associated with St Luke’s,” the grandfather-of-four said.

n A team of walkers from The Star newsroom is gearing up to trek the 24.5-mile Yorkshire Three Peaks for St Luke’s this weekend. To back the team, log on to www.justgiving.com/StarTrek1