As part of its 21st birthday celebrations, Keech Hospice Care, based in Great Bramingham Lane, Streatley, is calling on the community to give a gift to the charity in support of their new campaign. Lauren Archell speaks to two families who are heading the ‘Special to us appeal’ about their experiences with Keech, and why they have decided to get involved.
Keech Hospice Care has reached the grand old age of 21.
To coincide with the landmark birthday, the charity is calling on people in the community to make a small donation to enable the care and support they provide to continue.
The ‘Special to us appeal’ has been created to remind everyone that each and every person who comes to the hospice is unique and deserves the most appropriate and efficient treatment.
One couple championing the campaign are Danny Kerr, 27, and his wife Samantha Charles- Kerr, 26, who made the heartbreaking decision to move their daughter Lexi Deborah Kira Charles-Kerr to Keech when she was just 14 days old.
Lexi was desperately ill from the day she was born in September 2011, and her parents had been warned that she would not make the night.
She fought on, surviving day after day, but although Lexi became stronger the doctors at Luton & Dunstable Hospital told the couple to expect the worst.
It was at this point that Danny and Sam were given the opportunity to take Lexi to Keech.
Danny said: “It was something we were worried about, a hospice is somewhere that people go to live out their last days, and of course we wanted our daughter to live.
“Before our first visit Samantha was in tears in the car park, but by the time we had been shown around she was smiling. We were struck by how homely and friendly everyone was, and we knew that this was the best place for Lexi to be.
“The staff at the hospital were great, but at Keech we were given more freedom to be parents to our daughter - we were able to feed her, change her and administer her medication.
"We were able to stay with Lexi in a room above hers so it felt like being at home, and all our family and friends were able to visit us at any time.”
Danny, who is a huge Rangers football fan, spoke of one day that was particularly special to him.
He said: “Knowing that Lexi was going to die it was really important to me that I was able to share my passion for football with her.
“Rangers were playing Celtic, and the nurses at Keech arranged it so that Lexi was able to be in the front room with me while the game was on.
“I’m so glad I got to see one game with my little girl, and that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.”
Tragically after five days at Keech, Lexi passed away aged just 19 days old.
Danny said: “Obviously it was an incredibly sad time, but the staff there have helped us through.
“Keech helped us create five days of good memories that would help us to overcome the pain and enable us to smile through our tears.
“That is why we are supporting Keech with this appeal, and would recommend anyone with any spare cash to make a gift and donate so others can experience the same care.”
Celia Hedley, 64, is another who is heading the campaign for donations to Keech.
After experiencing the respite care Keech provided when her husband Robert was terminally ill with tumours on his brain and lung, Celia turned to the hospice for support after he passed away in 2009.
She said: “My family and friends were supportive and couldn’t do enough for me after Robert passed away, but after a couple of months I felt like I was boring people and couldn’t openly talk about my memories with him.
“I was struggling with my grief when I heard that Keech offered a bereavement service.
“They had been fantastic throughout Robert’s illness, so I spoke to one the members of staff who gave me details of a support group that I could join.
“The group has enabled me to realise I’m not alone, and others are going through the same thing I am.
“The great thing about Keech is that they don’t forget about the friends and family that are left behind and they endeavour to do all they can to support you.
“I would urge anybody to support this campaign so these services can continue.” A gift of £21 will pay for the family of a sick child with support services such as social work, bereavement support and complementary therapy.
A donation of £50 will help pay for the doctor support needed for a patient in Keech’s adult in-patient unit for 24 hours.
And £122 would provide a place at the hospice and access to all specialist support for one day for a child and their family.
You can donate online at www.keech.org.uk/get_involved/ online_donation
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