Mandy Edwards retired in May as Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice's receptionist, following 14 years of being there for local families. She talks about supporting people coming to the hospice and her personal connection to Leckhampton, while former colleagues and family members comforted by her reveal how integral Mandy was in creating a safe, welcoming space.
“I can relate to what people are going through”
“My father was cared for at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice and when I came here I thought it was the most beautiful building, with the most wonderful atmosphere, people and grounds. I thought that I would love to work here.
“Some time after that the Receptionist position was advertised and I have been here ever since.
“When people first come into the hospice they might not want their loved one to be here, but I want them to be reassured that this is the right place for them at that time. I firmly do believe that.
“My late husband, Bob, died here, and I would not have had him cared for anywhere else.
“I have been on both sides of this desk, so I can relate to what people are going through when they come in.”
A place of kindness and love
When arriving through the hospice’s doors, Mandy is often the very first person they see.
“My job involves being one of the first points of contact. When people arrive they can be quite stressed and are not sure what to expect. I welcome them and do all I can to put them at ease. We’re here for them and can give a hug, a cup of tea and a chat if need be. It is a place of kindness and love.”
Even as she retires, Mandy is keen to make sure that message continues to reach people.
“I want people to know that they are always welcome at Leckhampton Court Hospice. It is a safe place and that they can receive support from our Family Support team if they so wish.
“When pandemic restrictions ease, I hope we’ll return to a time when people can come and go to the hospice as they please.”
A privilege to be there
As she retires, Mandy shares what a privilege it has been to be there for people over the past fourteen years.
“I feel privileged to have met literally thousands of relatives and friends visiting the hospice at one of the most stressful times of their lives. I have always strived to provide a friendly, warm welcome,” says Mandy.
“Helping visitors is what I have loved the most and it is just wonderful that many years on people still come back to the hospice to say hello. When someone goes away feeling a little bit better than when they came in, that means a lot to me. That’s when I know it has been a job well done.
“Some of the visitors have returned and become volunteers and in turn have become lifelong friends too - so much so one was a witness at my wedding to my new husband, Andy!”
Together with her husband and dog, Mandy is looking forward to retiring to Pembrokeshire, Wales.
“I will genuinely miss meeting so many lovely people, and I want to give everyone my very best wishes,” shares Mandy.
“I’m really looking forward to living by the sea. It has always been a dream of mine and I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to do so”.
“Mandy made the things that could have been much harder a lot easier”
As Mandy walked out of the hospice for the final time at the end of May, Sue Ryder supporters and volunteers have paid tribute to her contribution.
Helen Hopkins, whose husband was cared for at the hospice, shared, “The day we first looked around the hospice with my family Mandy was there in reception with the tissues. She said, 'We've got this, let’s go.' From then on, every time we came to the hospice she had us. She sorted us all out and she knew exactly what we needed. Mandy made the things that could have been much harder a lot easier."
Hospice volunteer and friend Sue Weir-Cracknell, added, “My first meeting with Mandy was in March 2013 when my husband, Tony, was admitted to the hospice. She met me with open arms. Mandy is welcoming, comforting, reassuring – all of those things rolled into one. See you in Wales soon, Mandy!”
Hospice volunteer, Claire Fraiser, added, “Mandy has been at the heart of the hospice. Always there to greet you with a smile and always there to share a cup of tea, a wise word and a warm hug when needed. She has so much time for all the relatives, patients and volunteers, who look to her for support as she is so understanding, caring and refreshingly frank and down to earth. She will be a big loss, but I wish her lots of love and happiness in her retirement.”