THE Westmorland Gazette today launches a campaign to support an essential service for terminally-ill people in the South Lakes and beyond.

The 'Hospice Angels' appeal is calling on readers to raise £30,000 - enough to fund the vital at home support the nurses at St John's Hospice provide for one year.

It comes as the hospice, which has a team of 15 full-time equivalent members of staff in its Hospice at Home service, celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The hospice and all of its services costs £4m to run each year. Although a third of this comes from the NHS, the rest is reliant entirely on donations.

The money that The Westmorland Gazette aims to raise would pay for a Hospice at Home nurse, as well as telephone calls, fuel costs and equipment such as syringes.

Set up over a decade ago, the Hospice at Home nurses work alongside district nurses and GPs to deliver care, often attending to patients in teams of two and making a total of 5,000 visits every year.

The nurses work every day of the year and are available 24-hours a day - covering the South Lakes, north Lancashire and North Yorkshire - offering specialist palliative care at the end of life to allow those who wish to remain in their homes during their final days.

It is due to their caring natures and the invaluable support that the nurses offer that they have earned their 'angel' status.

"The title has been given to these nurses by families of patients when they write to us with letters of thanks," said Catherine Butterworth, head of fundraising. "The nurses come in a time of great need and the relief that families feel when they arrive is incredible. They can trust them."

Sue McGraw, chief executive of the hospice, which is based in Lancaster, said she thinks the work the angels do takes a 'huge amount of compassion'.

"I think it takes a real sense of community spirit," she said. "I think it takes some resilience because what you see in a day can often be very sad. But there's a positive side to that as well - it's very life affirming. What you see makes you really appreciate your friends, your family, the people you're close to - it all really matters.

"It's a privilege to care for people who are facing the end of life and you can learn a lot from them."

The support that the nurses provide varies depending on what a patient and their family wants or needs. Often it will involve nurses undertaking practical tasks as well as offering emotional support.

"What we try to do is maintain a patient's privacy and their dignity," Sue said. "We support them to allow that last stage of their journey in life to be as normal as possible. We take our lead from the patients and families to guide us to what we want to do."

St John's Hospice, which offers the Hospice at Home service as well as inpatient facilities, a day hospice and therapy services, could not survive if it were not for the generous fundraising efforts of the public or through donations.

And although the work that the team do is felt to be vital by all who use the service, funding is not always easy to secure.

"For the last 30 years we have relied on the local community to ensure we can continue to care," said Catherine. "Over the years our costs have increased as we now look after more patients not only in their own homes but at the hospice and our day hospice.

"This appeal will allow us to share the work we do and also allow the public to get behind us in funding a nurse to provide this care in their community.

"We were ‘built by the people for the people’ and remain today focused to ensure we deliver outstanding care in the community. We can only do this with the help of appeals and are extremely grateful to the Westmorland Gazette for allowing us this opportunity."

This is not the first time that The Gazette has supported St John's Hospice. In 2013, thanks to the support of our readership, our Driving Hospice Care campaign raised enough cash to be buy the Hospice at Home nurses three new cars to replace their old and unreliable ones.

Andrew Thomas, editor of The Westmorland Gazette, said he was 'delighted' the paper was able to support such a valuable local service.

"The care and the support that the Hospice at Home nurses provide is essential and it can only be sustained thanks to the kindness of the public," he said. "We hope that our readers will show the same generosity that they did during our Driving Hospice Care campaign in order to make sure that families and patients can continue to benefit from the help of the Hospice Angels."

To donate to the Hospice Angels campaign, complete the coupon below or go to to donate online.


If you or your family has been helped by a Hospice at Home nurse and would like to share your story, please contact Sara Royle on 01539 790260 or email