Up until two weeks ago, our family had no idea of the amazing, caring work that’s going on just up the road from us at St Leonard’s Hospice. Like most Yorkies, we’ve put the odd pound or two in a collection box for them, but we’d never had first hand experience of what they do. Sadly, just before Christmas, my mum was admitted to St Leonard’s. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour last summer and, despite sailing through surgery and radiotherapy with almost no side-effects, started to deteriorate in November. She went into hospital just after her birthday (read about her birthday afternoon tea here) and tragically never came home. She died at St Leonard’s last week.
During this incredibly upsetting time, the one consolation was the unbelievable care shown to her – and us – by all the staff and volunteers at St Leonard’s. Nothing was too much trouble, and the little acts of love and care shown by the staff often had us in tears. They brought a little Christmas tree in to sit at the end of her bed; on Christmas morning they delivered a stocking full of little treats, and they asked us to bring in her favourite moisturisers and lipstick so that they could help make her feel as good as possible every day. The food was fantastic: beautifully presented and really, really tasty. There were fantastic soups, puddings that wouldn’t look out of place on the Bettys cake trolley and a delicious Christmas dinner too. The little Vikings made use of the well-stocked family room. They played with the toys, watched TV, tried to learn how to play pool and read some of the huge selection of books. The hospice really was a lovely place to be, in spite of the awful circumstances (in fact the biggest Viking keeps asking to go back).
If it wasn’t for my mum, Little Vikings wouldn’t exist. I had the idea but she encouraged me to make it happen, convinced that it could be helpful to other families in York. We’ll miss her input massively – she was full of ideas for the site and was always giving us tips on places she’d been in York that were family-friendly (or not). Nothing can bring her back, but we’ve decided that we’ll donate a good proportion of the money that we make from Little Vikings to St. Leonard’s Hospice to help them carry on doing their wonderful, inspiring work for other local people. And if you ever see one of those collection boxes when you’re out and about, it would be lovely if you could drop in a pound or two. We know it will be well spent.