The Bellis family story

Frances spent her last Christmas at the hospice. Christmas was her favourite time of year, and her time in the hospice was filled with special moments.

Our Mum loved Christmas. She was like a little kid! When she came to St Ann’s in December, she couldn’t believe that she had a Christmas tree right beside her bed. We were a bit apprehensive about how she might feel in the hospice, but as soon as she saw the tree she instantly felt settled. The next day she told us: “You’ll never guess, they kept the lights on the tree all night!” 

While Mum was at St Ann’s, she looked so well. We could see the difference from how she was before. It felt like we had got our Mum back - we call it our Christmas miracle. She even said it was her best ever Christmas! 
A black and white photo of Frances playing the piano at Christmas
A black and white photo of Frances playing the piano at Christmas

One day, Mum found the piano in The Being You Centre. She loved the piano and had taught herself to play by ear as a young girl. She started playing her favourite song, White Christmas by Bing Crosby, and other patients came to join in. It’s such a special memory for us and we’ve got a video of her playing. We never would have imagined it possible anywhere else. 

We actually miss coming to the hospice. We really enjoyed coming to the coffee shop, chatting to the other patients, visitors and staff. All the families on the ward got to know each other well, it was really special. She got on so well with the patients on her ward, and she’d sit and chat with the staff or have a Baileys in the evening and talk to the volunteers who brought round the drinks trolley. 

We can’t put it into words, but it was a real relief for us that Mum was cared for at St Ann’s. It made a sad time easier. We knew she was in the best hands and there was always someone there for her. 
A black and white photo of Frances playing the piano at Christmas

The weeks that Mum was in the hospice flew by, she was in such good spirits. The day before she died, Mum had been at a birthday party for one of the other patients and she even ate an ice cream at 5pm on what turned out to be her last evening. When people think about hospices, they can be a bit glib about it. But it’s only really when you’ve experienced St Ann’s first hand that you understand why people are so passionate about it. 

Everyone’s heard of St Ann’s, but we never really knew how amazing it was until Mum was here at Christmas. 

Vini, Annie, Steve and “Steve’s brother” (family joke) 

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