Find out why actress Caroline Quentin was at St Peter’s Hospice in Bristol

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It’s been 12 months since bosses at St Peter’s Hospice threw open the new swanky doors to their £5.6 million inpatient ward.

During that short period, staff have already cared for 255 people helping them and their families make the most of their last weeks of life.

Two of the patients’ families joined the hospice’s employees today (Thursday, November 21) to celebrate the poignant anniversary at the Brentry centre.

And it might surprise a lot of people to hear that their stays at the hospice during their loved ones final days were filled with lots of laughter and special memories.

Both families said that was only possible because the staff at Bristol’s only adult hospice were so amazing and the new unit allowed them space to relax and be together.

Actress Caroline Quentin was also at the hospice to mark the anniversary after she became patron of the charity’s Room to Care Appeal – an ambitious fundraiser to collect the remaining £1.5 million needed to build the state-of-the-art unit.

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Actress Caroline Quentin says she loves coming to Bristol (Image: jon Kent/Bristol Live)

 

Standing in the venue’s stunning lobby with huge glass panelled doors, quirky wallpaper and bright furnishing, Caroline said she was amazed at how well Bristol residents came together to raise the funds.

“Being here really is an exceptional experience,” said Caroline, who is known for roles in the BBC’s hit comedy Men Behaving Badly and Cornish drama Doc Martin.

“The building is beautiful but this place has always been about the people.

“The quality of care, the excellent staff – we’re talking about the best doctors and nurses in palliative care.

“People that come here are going through some very difficult times, they might be struggling financially, physically or mentally – they are dealing with big issues.

“They get cared for so well. The staff are filled with kindness and love and that’s why I’m involved with this place.

“It costs £7.5 million to run this place. The people of Bristol, Bath and the surrounding areas have been ludicrous generous but i would like to remind them we still need to raise money every year.”

What the families had to say

Thalia Batchen’s husband Marcus was admitted on Christmas Eve last year after a shock diagnosis that he was suffering from terminal cancer.

 

This was the third time he’d fought testicular cancer and tragically the dad-of-two died on January 25.

But during his stay at the hospice, Thalia said everyone worked incredibly hard to help them enjoy their time.

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(Image: BristolLive)

Legend and former player Scott Murray, visited the lifelong Bristol City fan on the ward along with actor Joe Sims which was all arranged by hospice staff.

“It’s not just the support but the love they provide as well,” said the 44-year-old from Yate.

“We had our own room and were able to have friends come and see him.

find out why actress caroline quentin was at st peters hospice in bristol 4 - Find out why actress Caroline Quentin was at St Peter's Hospice in Bristol

Thalia Batchen with her daughter Amy (Image: jon Kent/Bristol Live)

“There are no words for this place. We are so lucky to have it here in Bristol. They continue to help us now and make us feel so welcome.”

Having the space to be there for your loved one is something Alison Freeman knew all about.

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Alison Freeman with her son Tim and daughter Polly (Image: jon Kent/Bristol Live)

She was able to sleep on the ward for two weeks with her husband Mike before his death from bladder cancer.

 

“He was happy when he arrived at the unit,” said Alison.

“He had been moved from Keynsham and he couldn’t believe the difference.

“We were still filled with hope, you never lose the hope.

“They made him very comfortable – staff are just incredible.”

What hospice staff said at the celebration

Head of Fundraising Sarah Allen Gunn said the hospice has cared for 255 people in their new inpatients during the last year and 3,000 people in the community.

“We have an ageing population and the demand for our services keeps growing,” explained Sarah.

Staggeringly the NHS only funds 19 per cent of the hospice’s annual budget of £7.5 million. The rest comes from fundraising events, sales from charity shops and direct donations.

Previously the hospice’s inpatient unit had 18 bedrooms, of which only half were single. And crucially rooms did not have facilities for loved ones to stay overnight.

Now there are 15 single, ensuite, fully fitted bedrooms, each of which has access on to a private garden terrace.

“Having this space has made such a huge difference to the families,” said Sarah. “

Before they had to share that special time with their loved one while having a stranger in the room.

“They might have been trying to have really personal conversations and someone they didn’t know would be there – it was really difficult.

 

“Now they have their own space and their loved one can stay over.”

Around 30 per cent of patients who enter the unit will have help controlling their pain levels before being released.

“Most people would prefer to die in their own home,” said Sarah.

“It’s often the most complex patients who remain.

“We are so lucky to have so many people supporting us.

“We have really great fundraisers who do everything from cutting their hair off to taking part in our annual Tour De Bristol.”

Find out more here.

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