Over three decades of hospice support

Categories: Care, Community Engagement, and Featured.

Laura Everett was a supporter of Saint Francis Hospice in Essex before it even opened to the public. Little did she know that years later her son would be cared for by the charity, before sadly dying at the age of 59. Here Laura shares how valuable the hospice’s care has been to her.

Every week, someone will win £1,000 on the Saint Francis Hospice Lottery. The rollover prize can reach a whopping £25,000. Eighty-eight-year-old Laura Everett was recently one of the lucky ones.

Laura been supporting the Saint Francis Hospice since 1983, two years before it opened to the public. While the hospice’s founders, Dr Dorothy Rule, Peter Smith, and Joan Matthews were scratching around for initial funding, they asked the big retail stores in the local area to chip in.

Laura was working at a now-defunct Littlewoods in Ilford, and she and her colleagues raised money with collection pots, quizzes, and murder mystery nights to help ensure that the dream to open a hospice in the village of Havering-atte-Bower became a reality. A sponsored pub crawl raised over £850. “That was an awful lot of money back then” she says.

When the hospice opened in 1985, the team invited Laura and her colleagues to see what had become of their hard work. “We were terrified,” she remembers. “We had no idea of the concept of a hospice. Yet, I’ve never been so pleased about doing anything in my entire life.”

Some 30 years later Laura would need the hospice’s help when her son Raymond, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. Initially she had to talk Raymond into going to the hospice for day care. “My son was sceptical about a lot of things,” she says. “Once Raymond got there, he saw how wonderful the hospice was and came round to the idea of spending his final moments there.”

Raymond told his mum that he didn’t want to die at home, but at the hospice instead. He was just 59 years old. “You don’t expect to see your kids go before you. Raymond was unconscious by the time he arrived at the hospice, but I know in his heart of hearts that he would have appreciated everything the nurses did for him. I know I did.”

Laura has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the hospice since the early ’80s, and as for her plan on how to spend her Lottery win: she needs a new vacuum cleaner. “Once I’ve bought that and a couple of other bits, then I’ll be sure to send some of my winnings back to the hospice to keep Raymond’s memory alive,” she said.

For more information visit Saint Francis Hospice