Delyse Humphreys: Sheffield supermodel from swinging 60s returns to celebrate 50 years of St Luke's Hospice
She’s been described as Sheffield’s original supermodel, gracing magazine covers and film screens during the swinging 60s.
Six decades later, Delyse Humphreys – who narrowly missed out on a role in James Bond – is back before the cameras to show her support for St Luke’s Hospice as it celebrates its 50th anniversary.
Delyse was a regular on the beauty queen circuit and one of Britain’s most popular models during the late 50s and swinging 60s and her glamorous looks led to appearances in films including the controversial Ken Russell Oscar-winner, Women in Love.
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She even auditioned as a Bond girl for Sean Connery box office smash From Russia With Love – though the director told her she’d be great in northern comedy!
In the 1980s she became a successful businesswoman, creating Style, the Sheffield model and casting agency that launched the careers of a new generation of successful South Yorkshire models.
‘I didn't know, but St Luke's reassured me - it wasn't doom and gloom and feeling sorry for me or making me feel sorry for myself’
Now, aged 85, she has joined fellow St Luke’s patients for a major campaign celebrating the charity’s 50th anniversary.
She wants to show her gratitude to the hospice for the support and care the team there has provided since she was diagnosed with cancer to help her stay in her home.
“From day one I just couldn't believe how absolutely wonderful St Luke’s are - just friendly, nice people,” she says.
“So you have cancer and my first thought was ‘I'm going to die tomorrow. How long have I got? Two days, two weeks, two years?’.
“I didn't know, but St Luke's reassured me - it wasn't doom and gloom and feeling sorry for me or making me feel sorry for myself.
“They just made me feel good and answered a lot of unanswered questions that I needed to know at the time.
“I know that St Luke’s is there and I'm not really worried or afraid of the end because we've all got to have an ending.
“But I know they’re there and I know that at the eleventh hour, I'm going to be taken care of. It's the reassurance that they give me at St Luke’s that means so much.”
Delyse is not the only patient showing her thanks to the specialist palliative care nurses at St Luke’s, who have spent five decades helping fight the pain, lack of dignity and isolation caused by terminal illness.
For some, that intensive care happens at the St Luke’s In Patient Centre. But for 85 per cent of patients it happens in their own home, where they remain surrounded by the people they love and the passions and interests that make them who they are.
The St Luke’s Community Team strives to get symptoms under control, enabling patients to live their lives as they want, to the end. St Luke's is also there for families, to the end and beyond, with bereavement counselling and support.
‘They really do give me the support that helps me to live independently and it's a lot of spiritual and mental support as much as anything’
Scott Winwood, a former nurse, aged 46, has been living with multiple sclerosis for more than 20 years and is now being supported by the St Luke’s Community Team in his own home.
“I spent six weeks at St Luke’s for rehabilitation and pain management and now that I'm home, they still support me,” he explains.
“The chaplain, Mike Reeder, comes to see me and I have a regular nurse - that continuity of care is important, seeing the same nurse is really nice.
“They really do give me the support that helps me to live independently and it's a lot of spiritual and mental support as much as anything.
“Being able to discuss certain topics like end of life, funerals, illness and prognosis is so important because it's not always easy to do with friends and family.
"St Luke’s is just there for me, and I'm comfortable and confident in the knowledge that they are. Their support enables me to be able to still smile at the world and see hope.”
John Moxon, who is 82 and lives with wife Joan, has prostate cancer and has also experienced two strokes that have limited his mobility.
The St Luke’s Community team have provided physiotherapy and also delivered a food parcel every week during the pandemic.
“It was during Covid and St Luke’s used to come every Friday with a carrier bag of food, things like bread, cake and smoothies, so we never went hungry,” says John.
“Those visits also gave them the opportunity to see how I was faring, to check in on me, especially my mental state.
“It was a very pressurised time, especially for my wife, but they’d come and help. I know I’m getting the best treatment and they’ve really gone far beyond my expectations. They’re very, very caring people.”
‘We don’t want to see her housebound yet and St Luke’s are helping us with that’
Retired nursing assistant Louise Dale is 78 and has cancer but she too lives at home with the support of St Luke’s.
Daughter Marva explains: “The St Luke’s team originally came to mum every day because there was a dressing they needed to see to and that went on quite a long time.
“Recently her consultant has referred her back to St Luke’s, again just to help with pain management and just to see what she’s up to!
“We don’t want to see her housebound yet and St Luke’s are helping us with that.”
Every day of the year, the St Luke’s Community team bring specialist care into patients’ homes across Sheffield – from Stocksbridge to Firth Park and Dore to Darnall.
Every year this means the team make over 6,000 visits to patients in their own homes over the past 50 years that means reaching over 40,000 patients and their families.
To see Delyse and Scott talk about their experiences and to find out more about St Luke’s Hospice, its 50th anniversary celebrations and how to give your support, visit www.stlukeshospice.org.uk/50.