Steve Norton is dedicating a light in memory of mum, Margaret, who sadly passed away last year

1st November 2021

Mum always felt that Christmas was a special time to make even more difference to patients and families in her voluntary role at St Barnabas Hospice. I feel touched that her care and dedication was replicated by colleagues when the tables turned, and she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. 

Last Christmas was the first without Mum, so I want to tell you about how St Barnabas made this difficult time of year feel special, even during a pandemic. Mum and Dad have always been at the centre of our family Christmas, so it warms my heart to know that we can still celebrate their lives thanks to St Barnabas’s festive tradition. 

Mum had volunteered for St Barnabas since 1994, working on the Inpatient Unit in Lincoln to support patients and families with cups of tea, friendly smiles and a listening ear during tough times. Many years into this role, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and also spent time at this wonderful sanctuary receiving care. 

After Dad died, Mum carried on volunteering, determined to make a difference wherever she could. But then last year, during the height of the pandemic, I drove her to hospital for some blood tests after she fell ill at home. 

It was so hard watching them wheel her inside without me, but nothing compared to the feeling when the hospital called me and told me she had cancer and it was terminal. I also found out that she had tested positive for coronavirus. It is difficult enough to hear that you are going to lose a parent, but to not even be able to hug and reassure her was devastating.

When I spoke to her, she said “I want to go to St Barnabas; I want to be with my second family.” I made the relevant calls and her colleagues did the rest, giving her a private room to ensure the safety of other patients from the virus. 

It meant absolutely everything to her that she could spend her last few days there, I can’t thank the nurses enough for all they did. St Barnabas cares for people across the county, at both their Inpatient Units and in people’s own homes. I have been blown away to read stories about how they have helped families in all four corners of Lincolnshire, despite the pandemic having such a devastating impact to their finances. 

Mum absolutely adored the Torchlight Procession that St Barnabas organises each Christmas. When my dad was being cared for in the Hospice, the Procession stopped outside and played ‘Amazing Grace’ for the patients to hear. It really lifted his spirits, and I know it will have done the same for many others through the years. 

The year before she died, Mum was asked to share Dad’s story as part of the Hospice’s Light up a Life campaign, and this made her so proud. I feel humbled to now be sharing Mum’s story this year and will be dedicating two extra special lights to remember them both. 

We often make comments as if Mum is still with us, and to an extent, I think she is. I know she will be up there with Dad watching the Torchlight Procession light up the streets of Lincoln, and I know I will feel the same pride that she did as I carry their torch to the Tree of Life along with hundreds of others. 

This Christmas, please join me in remembering your loved ones in a celebration of light. I am inviting you to dedicate your light for a loved one so they can shine brightly on St Barnabas Hospice’s beautiful Tree of Life outside Lincoln Cathedral. A donation of just £68.72 would pay for a doctor to spend time working out a personalised pain relief medication plan for a patient.

You can remember anyone with a light, not just those cared for by the Hospice. As a thank you and token for your loved one, St Barnabas will send you a personalised card and special tree decoration in the post. You will also be invited to attend the Torchlight Procession in November, either at the in-person event or via a virtual service. 

Your donation for a light could pay for more people like Mum and Dad to receive specialist end-of-life care during the most difficult of times. It could help St Barnabas care for more people long into the future as they face the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic and the increase in patients needing their care with complex illnesses. 

Because of the wonderful people at St Barnabas, I was able to spend Mum’s last moments with her safely, despite the pandemic. I thanked her for being the best mum and for all she had done for everyone. She just squeezed my hand and said, “thanks for sorting this.” I know it meant the world to her to die at St Barnabas. 

Please join me in shining a light to remember someone special this Christmas. Lincolnshire has lost so many loved ones during the pandemic, but I know that remembering them and celebrating their lives, will help lift some of that apprehension that we are all feeling about spending Christmas without them. To dedicate a light, please go to: Light up a Life – St Barnabas Hospice

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my story. 

Best wishes, 

Steve Norton 

St Barnabas Hospice supporter  

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