Alpacas, art projects and getting active: stories from across Sue Ryder this December

22 Dec 2022

As 2022 comes to a close and we look back on another year of being there when it matters, we wanted to highlight some of our favourite stories from a very busy December month at Sue Ryder.

Romeo and Paddington arrive in Lancashire

Patients at Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire welcomed two new visitors in December as alpacas Romeo and Paddington made a festive visit to the centre. As well as spreading some Christmas cheer, the animals also help with patients’ ongoing rehabilitation work.

Chris Walbank, Service Director, explains “It’s about companionship, about supporting the people through long-term conditions. Part of their rehabilitation is to connect with animals and have some companionship and to develop trust and relationships.

"The reaction has been amazing. It has been really good to see so many people engaging with the animals, talking to them, stroking them, and interacting with each other as well as just the animals.” 

This feeling was echoed by Linda, a resident at the centre, who said “It’s lovely when we all come together like this. The alpacas were friendly and cuddly…I’d like to have three in my garden! Can I have one please?”

The OASIS Project sparks our patients’ creativity

Earlier in December, patients at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice came together to showcase over 60 pieces of their own art, all lovingly made with the support of volunteers during a pioneering project with Painting in Hospitals

The OASIS Project, which uses art to inspire wellbeing, was launched in August and encouraged patients to make their own art through a series of creative workshops. 

Over a 12-week period, supported by their 1-2-1 volunteer befrienders, patients were invited to interpret specifically selected artworks from Paintings in Hospitals National art collection and produce their own creative responses using the art materials provided. 

From sketches of elephants to paintings celebrating the colours and textures of nature, the project inspired a huge array of spectacular artwork from those involved. 

Steph, who took part in the project, said “This whole project has really helped me unlock my imagination - I had no imagination before but I do now! I really surprised myself. I know I speak on behalf of all the patients involved in the OASIS Project when I say how grateful we are for the support of our volunteers and Paintings in Hospitals. My life would not be like it is now if Sue Ryder wasn’t there.”

Mike shares his December Daily Dash story

As our December Daily Dash fundraising challenge comes to an end, last year’s top fundraiser Mike spoke to us about his wife Brenda and why he decided to take part again this year. 

“Brenda fought cancer for two years, as well as struggling with sepsis and pneumonia. It was touch and go a few times. She had become frightened of hospitals, but as soon as she got to the hospice, she felt reassured, and we found peace. She called all the staff her angels. When I look back, she couldn’t have had a better place to spend her final days. The care and love they gave just blew me away.

“I said to Brenda ‘I can’t just keep bringing in chocolates and sweets - what more can I do?’. That’s when the nurses mentioned the December Daily Dash, and I thought that’s the way to do it! Running that 5k every day gives you time to go out and process your thoughts - it makes you physically fit, as well as mentally fit. It gives me focus, it gives me purpose and it makes me feel positive. But I’m sure Brenda’s looking down somewhere and saying ‘Shut up Mike, it’s not all about you…it’s about me too!’” 

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