ST LUKE’S APPEAL: ‘Sheffield should be proud of St Luke’s Hospice’

lukeBS''Artist's drawing of how the new rooms at St Luke's Hospice will look.
lukeBS''Artist's drawing of how the new rooms at St Luke's Hospice will look.
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Dignity, support and care for generations

FOR generations Sheffield residents have cherished the care St Luke’s Hospice provides at the very end of people’s lives.

Its nurses treat patients at the hospice in Whirlow, in their own homes, and in care homes across the city.

Muriel Nutbrown, a mum of three and grandmonther of five from Hollins Lane, Stannington, spent two and a half months at the hospice before she passed away aged 85.

Muriel suffered from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, and moved into the Whirlow facility because the Royal Hallamshire Hospital could not manage her pain.

More than four years after Muriel’s death, her three daughters still raise money for St Luke’s.

Daughter Jane Lancaster, 63, said: “The staff were so kind, so caring, they really had time for her.

“She was on one of the big wards and she really enjoyed the company.

Her sister Kathleen Peters, 51, said: “Our mum loved it there. She loved going and singing with the vicar on Sundays.

“I think she was the only one who went!

But she added: “The difficult part was watching about 20 or 25 people die on that ward.

“That was really hard for her and it was hard for us. We got to know them and their relatives, so it was not easy.”

One of the drives behind the rebuild is to provide single en-suite rooms, so patients can have privacy in their final days.

Gerry Poole, 28, from Walkley, is a current patient at St Luke’s.

Gerry, a library and information assistant at Sheffield Central Library, was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach, liver and oesophagus in January 2011.

Doctors at the time gave Gerry six to nine months to live.

But 15 months later he is battling on, and is fiercely campaigning for St Luke’s future.

“Imagine what would happen if St Luke’s closed down,” he said.

“If all these patients suddenly had to go into the NHS it would be a terrible situation.

“I’m trying to persuade people to lobby their MPs, to get the Government to fully support the hospice.

“It is such an essential service - I can’t think of a more important thing to support.”

Sharon Rider, 53, from Hillsborough, passed away at St Luke’s a month ago, on April 6, Good Friday, after a battle with ovarian cancer.

Her mum Brenda, 74, said: “She had absolutely excellent care. And they didn’t just look after Sharon - they looked after all of us.”

n For more stories about how St Luke’s has touched people’s lives, log-on to thestar.co.uk/video.

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FOR more than four decades the people of Sheffield have proudly supported St Luke’s Hospice, backing it through thick and thin.

Today, 41 years after its foundation, city residents donate £4 million a year to the charity, which receives just £2m from the NHS.

Supporters organise sponsored events, set up coffee mornings and jumble sales, and on Saturday night 1,200 attended the hospice’s annual Starlight Walk.

But now St Luke’s needs more money than ever before - and this will be its toughest ever challenge.

The rebuild that starts next month will cost £5.5m.

Charity chief executive Peter Hartland said: “We have already raised £1.6m and put in £0.5m from our reserves.

“That leaves us £3.4m short. We still need to raise £4m a year to stay open, otherwise there will be no rebuild.

“The hospice is willing to take that leap of faith to get that work done.

“We are taking a calculated risk - we just can not wait.

“St Luke’s is such an important institution for the city that it just needs to be supported.

“And we have seen in the past that people know that.”

Una Moran, director of fundraising and communications at the charity, said: “We recognise that this is not the ideal perfect time to support a project like this.

“We are making it easier by asking people to commit to supporting us over a number a years.

“In the meantime we will be using our reserves and bank loans to manage the cash flow and pay for the work.

“Sheffield should be proud of St Luke’s.

“The fact that it was the first hospice to open outside London is something the city is proud of.”

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THE Star has pledged to raise £100,000 to build one of the 14 new single rooms at St Luke’s Hospice - and we need your help.

We have two years to put together the money and will be announcing our fundraising plans in the coming weeks.

But we need readers to help us by organising their own events - whether it is a sponsored sky dive, a walk, a dinner or cake sale. If you have any ideas, please get in touch.

We need every penny we can get for this vital cause.

To kick-start the fundraising process, fill in and post the attached form, call St Luke’s on 0114 2357600 or log-on to www.justgiving.com/thestar.

And if you have any ideas for your own fundraising events, email ben.spencer@thestar.co.uk or call 0114 2767676 ext 3103.