St Catherine’s Hospice launches powerful fundraising appeal
Published: 09 Jun 2023
St Catherine’s Hospice has launched a new fundraising appeal featuring impactful testimony from a daughter, after the Crawley based hospice cared for her mum at the end of her life.
Grace Claxton has bravely shared her experiences of the vital hospice care her mum, Tracey Gleed, received in the last few weeks of her life at St Catherine’s to help the charity fund its end of life and palliative care.
It costs around £10 million to run the hospice services each year, but less than a third of this comes from the NHS. The rest is raised through the support and generosity of the local community in East Surrey and West Sussex.
In the emotional letter to St Catherine’s supporters, Grace tells the story about her “mad as a box of frogs” mum, from Godstone in Surrey. Grace says: “I wanted to share my story of my amazing mum and the incredible support we received from St Catherine’s Hospice before she died.
“My perfect-in-every-way Mum, Tracey, was mad as a box of frogs. She was the life and soul wherever she went, and if you’d met her, you’d have loved her too. She was my best friend and now she’s my guardian angel.
“She wanted to help everyone – she was a policewoman and then a teacher – and she always put everyone before herself. She was the most inspirational, brave, funny, determined and ridiculously talented woman in the world.”
In the appeal Grace talks about the support her mum received while she was in the hospice. Grace continues: “Despite the awful situation, Mum’s final weeks were so full of love and laughter. The staff at St Catherine’s were beyond amazing and took the very best care of mum. They took the scariness away and helped us make so many memories before she died.
“Nothing was ever an issue, and no request was ever too much. I remember one night it was 3am and after lacking any appetite, mum suddenly felt hungry. Even though it was the middle of the night, the incredible kitchen prepared some scrambled eggs. According to mum they were the best, creamiest eggs she had ever eaten. Mum did not stop talking about those eggs!
“St Catherine’s enabled mum to still be mum – right to the end of her life. At home, she was always hosting friends and the hospice was no different. Her room at St Catherine’s became her home, where she could still host endless visits from friends and family. You could always hear chat and the laughter coming from her room – the nurses called it the party room!”
Importantly, Grace also talks in the appeal about the support the charity gave her to cope with the immensely tough situation. She continues: “I want you to know that St Catherine’s didn’t just look after mum. They were incredible at looking after me too and could tell when things became too much. During the day they would take me for a walk around the beautiful gardens and ask how I was doing. The gardens became so important to me that I even have a tattoo of flowers from the garden. I showed it to mum before she died and she loved it.
“I slept on a recliner chair next to mum’s bed nearly every night mum was in the hospice. I was made so comfortable. I was given soft pillows and warm blankets to help me feel as rested as possible. I wouldn’t have wanted to sleep anywhere else.”
Grace concludes her letter saying: “After a three-and-a-half-year battle mum died aged just 56 at St Catherine’s Hospice. She described the hospice as “heaven on earth” and said that the staff were “angels without wings” and I couldn’t agree more.
“I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if we didn’t have St Catherine’s. I don’t know what I would have done. I can honestly say I would not have coped without them and I will be forever grateful for, and in awe of, the kindness they showed me and my beautiful mum.”
To donate to Grace’s fundraising appeal visit stch.org.uk/grace
St Catherine’s Hospice provides expert end of life care and support to terminally ill people and their families across West Sussex and East Surrey. St Catherine’s cares for around 2,000 people every year living with a terminal illness, in its hospice in Crawley, in people’s own homes or in care homes. Eight in ten people cared for by St Catherine’s are supported in the comfort of their own home.