Pictured: Saint Francis Hospice fundraiser Andy Furneaux with Gary, Terry and Sue Pitty.
A close-knit family whose daughter and sister was cared for by Saint Francis Hospice before she died have collectively raised nearly £9,000 in honour of her memory and to show their gratitude for the support she received.
Andrea Pitty, aged 33, battled breast cancer for four years and in 2012 she was referred to Saint Francis Hospice in Essex so she could access its specialist end of life care services.
She visited the day services at Pemberton Place on a Wednesday for five weeks before she sadly died but the impact it made improved her well-being and brought great comfort to her parents Terry and Sue and her brother Gary.
“The hospice is a special place run by special people for special people,” said Terry.
“She was scared to come at first but when she left she was so happy it changed her life. “She was tortured by her illness and didn’t want to talk to us because she did not want to upset us.
“When she came to the hospice she met other people who had problems and she was able to open up; it was like the burden had been lifted.
“Everyone was so lovely to her and she really looked forward to that Wednesday visit.”
Terry also recalled how Andrea was so excited after meeting TV and radio presenter Richard Madeley, who is one of the charity’s patrons.
During her time at the hospice she received reflexology to help her to relax and her parents were able to benefit from complementary therapy treatments.
Andrea was supported by Sue Spong, a Counsellor with the Family Support Services team, who also helped Sue and Terry to cope with their loss after she died on June 5.
“We visited the hospice to make a donation and I was given the unfinished cushion cover she had been making me for Father’s Day,” said Terry.
“Those five weeks she had with the hospice made her feel good,” said Sue.
“For us to see her happy meant so much and really made us want to do something.”
After losing his sister, Gary felt compelled to take action. In 2014 he signed up for one of the hospice’s Gold Bond places in the London Marathon and raised more than £3,000.
“I really felt I needed to do something in Andrea’s memory and it really helped me to cope with my grief,” said Gary, who is a teacher in Havering.
“Running the London Marathon is the best thing I have ever done – there are not many things that can top that.
“People were incredibly generous and after that I wanted to keep on raising money for the hospice.”
In August the family held its fifth annual football match by bringing together family and friends to fundraise in Andrea’s memory.
This year they raised £725 – bringing their total donated so far to an incredible £8,712.
They also had a star player on the team as hospice fundraiser Andy Furneaux put on his boots and kit to join in the fun.
Gary has taken part in its annual Santathon twice and last year he got to meet West Ham legend Sir Trevor Brooking.
“We have always been a close family and this has brought us even closer,” said Gary.
“I am so glad we’ve been able to keep the fundraising going and that every year the donations have increased.
“I know Andrea would be so proud of us and we are making a difference to other people who are in a similar position to Andrea.”
The family plans to continue their fundraising efforts and have set themselves a target of £10,000.