Caring hospice inspires Jan to volunteer

Jan Burgess
Jan Burgess

A volunteer from Biggleswade is among the many supporters of Sue Ryder St John’s Hospice celebrated for their work.

The theme for Hospice Care week, led by national hospice and palliative care charity Hospice UK, is ‘We are hospice care’ and Sue Ryder is looking to break down some myths surrounding them.

Jan Burgess has vast experience of the 15-bed hospice in Moggerhanger, which needs to raise £1.8million to continue to provide its care this year, and she is now a volunteer on the reception desk.

She said: “I lost mum here and four very good friends. It was always my intention to volunteer at St John’s once I retired.”

“From being here with mum I realised what a joy it was to know she would be looked after properly and her pain would be in check,” said Jan.

“Her room looked out over the garden, she knew she was dying, but it gave her peace. It is such a beautiful peaceful setting at St John’s.

“Mum was religious and to have the chaplain visit her was of comfort to her, she was very settled at the hospice. The fact family can stay 24/7 is also nice, coming here was like a hotel.”

A spokesman for Sue Ryder said: “There is much more to a hospice than a place where people go to die, while for some that is the case, the vital care given to patients and ongoing support to their families is crucial at a difficult time. Another myth surrounding hospices is they are downbeat places, however this is not the case as Jan can testify.”

She said: “It isn’t a depressing place at all. It is like being given a room in a home which you can make your own, you can visit any time of day or night and even bring pets in so you feel like you belong here. It helped to have so many dedicated staff on hand whose aim was to make mum settled.

“It’s a relaxed atmosphere, although the journey the patients are on is difficult the people here help them on that by being there.”

Jan now uses her personal experiences to relate to some visitors while helping on the front desk.

For more details on St John’s Hospice visit www.sueryder.org/stjohns