A nurse is preparing to spend her TENTH Christmas period in a row looking after patients at St Giles Hospice. Keeley Sherwin (28) works as a nurse on the inpatient unit at St Giles in Whittington, caring for local people and their families living with a terminal illness. This year she has taken on a starring role as the face of the hospice’s Christmas Appeal.
Each Christmas for the last nine years Keeley has looked after patients on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day – as well as many Christmas Eves – and admits that she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love working at Christmas because it’s truly magical. The atmosphere is indescribable. Many of my favourite Christmases have been spent at the hospice, seeing patients and families spending quality time together and witnessing the unconditional love they all have for each other,” added Keeley, who is engaged with a two-year-old daughter.
“If I’m working Christmas Day then as a family, we move our Christmas Day to Boxing Day. I can celebrate Christmas on another day, but our patients can’t. For many, this may be their last Christmas, which is why it’s so important that we help create special memories for families to cherish forever.”
She added that St Giles staff do everything they can each year to make Christmas Day memorable, quietly placing presents in patients’ rooms before they wake up and making sure that they can tuck into a traditional Christmas dinner – starters, puddings and all the trimmings – with their relatives by their side.
“I will always remember a lady visiting St Giles after her husband had died, to say how much their last Christmas had meant to her,” said Keeley. “It was the one final day that they spent time together feeling like a real family unit, and that’s what Christmas is all about.
“At St Giles, we help to make Christmas special for our patients by bringing a bit of home into the hospice. We encourage everyone to put up their favourite decorations, and we’ve even had patients with big 6ft trees at the end of their bed, because if that’s what they’d do at home, then they should be able to do it here.”
She added that while staff are caring for people at the hospice on Christmas Day, St Giles community teams are also out and about visiting and caring for patients who want to be at home with their families over the festive period.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Christmas Day or any other day, we’ll always be there for our patients,” said Keeley, who lives in Tamworth.
Elinor Eustace, Income Generation Director at St Giles, explained that without public support, the hospice would not be able to provide its vital care services at Christmas time and all year round.
“It’ll cost St Giles £850,000 in December alone to support local people and we’re still seeing a significant impact on our income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she added. “I know the festive season can be quite an expense, but we hope local people will continue to support us as our patients need us more than ever.”
“Every £1 makes a difference and a £5 donation could pay for a patient to have a Christmas meal with their family. It is really important for us to be able to create special memories for families to cherish in the future.”
Anyone who would like to support St Giles Hospice’s Christmas fundraising campaign can make a donation by visiting www.stgileshospice.com/ChristmasCare
PICTURE CAPTION: St Giles Hospice nurse Keeley Sherwin.
St Giles Hospice is a registered charity offering high-quality specialist care free of charge for people living with diseases which are terminal or incurable as well as providing support for their families and carers.
Patients come from across the hospice’s catchment area, which ranges from Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Atherstone in the east, to Cannock in the west – and from Burton and Uttoxeter in the north, to Sutton Coldfield and Coleshill in the south.
Care is offered at the hospice’s centres in Whittington and Sutton Coldfield and in patients’ own homes across the region.
St Giles spends over £10 million a year providing its specialist services and with little more than a third of this funded by the Government, the registered charity relies heavily on donations and income generation from the local community.