‘It allowed us to be her daughters, not her carers’

In August, hospice supporters Geraldina and Christina came to donate the final part of their mother’s estate. We sat down with them in The Street Café to find out more about their mother, Maria Walker.

Maria died in November 2019 after suffering from a congestive cardiac failure and kidney failure. It was her wish to die at home, and with the help of the team at St Wilfrid’s, this was made possible. She also had two short stays on the Inpatient Unit during her illness for respite and symptom control.

‘She was feisty, determined and independent. She got to know everybody at the hospice and kept them all on their toes,’ said Geraldina.

‘Our mother was first referred to the hospice by her GP. Dr Harrison came to see her at home before suggesting a short stay at the hospice,’ Christina continued.

‘One of her stays fell over the Christmas period and she was allowed to come home and spend Christmas Day with her family. Family was most important to her; it was all she cared about.’

‘When she returned home, Michael, the Social Worker, came in to support us from a social side and he was a godsend. As was Andy, the OT, who came out and helped with equipment. We also had a lot of support from the 24/7 Nurse Line too who we called the night our mother died,’ said Geraldina.

‘It was such a relief for us to have that support. It wasn’t just her who was being supported, but us as a family as well. You never felt alone. Having someone else to care for her allowed us to be her daughters, not her carers. That was so important.’

Maria was Italian and moved over to the UK when she was 18. They lived in Selmeston where Christina, Geraldina and their two sisters were born, before moving across to Eastbourne about 40 years ago – a similar time to when St Wilfrid’s Hospice first opened in Mill Gap Road.

Maria was a keen supporter of the hospice and as well as doing some voluntary work, she made cakes and did bucket collections. ‘She was a strong Catholic woman and always wanted to help people,’ Geraldina told us.

‘Her love for the hospice is why we have continued to donate. We made one donation while she was in the hospice and then she had left some money in her will. We came to drop off the final part of her estate today. We often visit for a coffee and a scone, and we enjoy visiting the Open Gardens each year.’

We would like to thank the family for their continued support. Gifts in Wills ensure that we can continue providing specialist palliative care and support in the hospice and across our catchment area for many years to come. If you would like to support St Wilfrid’s in this way, please visit stwhospice.org/giving/wills

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