Earlier in the year, Anne Reed was admitted to the hospice’s Inpatient Unit. She was desperate to live to see Christmas, but when the Nurses realised this wasn’t to be, the hospice staff and volunteers rallied together to bring Christmas to her.

Lesley Pizzey, one of our Host volunteers, knew Anne well from the St Wilfrid’s Community Choir and kindly sat down with us to share Anne’s story.

‘Anne Reed was a brilliant lady who had Parkinson’s disease and I first met her when she came to a Crafty Fridays session with her carer, Emma.

‘When she heard about the Community Choir that was being set up, she said “I’ve got to come along”. She absolutely loved singing and oh, could she sing! She had a beautiful high soprano voice; it was bird-like.

‘Everyone in the choir loved her and she loved coming; she would never miss a meeting. Although her face didn’t have much expression, as a result of her illness, you could see her eyes beaming whenever she walked in.

Anne sitting in her wheelchair (front), with Lesley (to the left of Anne) and their fellow choir members

‘Anne became quite ill earlier on in the year and was admitted to the Inpatient Unit. She was the same Anne, she had just forgotten things, and because she hadn’t had any social interaction, due to the pandemic, I knew it was important for her to see her friends.

‘I arranged for everyone in the choir to send her video messages and showed them to her in her room one day. She was so pleased, she said “I didn’t think I had any friends” and I turned to her and said “you have about 37 of them!” We had also recorded ourselves singing four songs that we knew Anne loved when we met up during the summer in one of our gardens. When I showed them to her she remembered the words and sang along!

‘She was also visited regularly by Eva Bilik, who was also a member of the choir. She painted Anne's nails for her, which meant a lot to Anne because she always came to choir meetings with amazing nails.

‘When Anne was admitted to the hospice she knew she wasn’t coming out, but the one thing she kept asking was whether she would make it to Christmas. When the Nurses realised that this probably wasn’t going to be the case, they decided to bring Christmas to her. They set up a Christmas tree, wrapped up some presents and put fairy lights around her room. Christmas to her was a celebration of life and she had some wonderful memories of Christmases as a child. It meant so much to her and she was able to die happy.

‘When she died we decided that we should come together and pay tribute to her life with a leaf on the Memory Tree. I also have about 20 WhatsApp messages from people who want to remember her. I’m not sure what to do with them all yet, but it’s a testament to how much of a lovely lady she was.’

If you have been inspired by this story and would like to help us continue delivering expert compassionate care to people like Anne, please visit stwhospice.org/donate