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Charitable acts across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire - February 2014

PUBLISHED: 14:38 07 March 2014 | UPDATED: 14:38 07 March 2014

Well done to Waitrose shoppers in Beaconsfield who supported the store’s Community Matters Scheme

Well done to Waitrose shoppers in Beaconsfield who supported the store's Community Matters Scheme

Archant

Good causes from across the region

Performers Patricia Hammond and Judith FlintPerformers Patricia Hammond and Judith Flint

When music and pets mean so much

All kinds of comforts can be provided as people approach death – both for them and their loved ones. Obviously being as free of pain as possible is vital, but also being part of life and sharing enjoyable moments can provide a special kind of ‘respite’ at this difficult time.

So we’re delighted to hear of the success at Thames Hospice in Windsor where they have introduced a programme of entertainment at the 17-bed Inpatient Unit in Hatch Lane.

Singers and dog handlers from charities Music in Hospitals (MiH) and Pets as Therapy (PAT) have visited patients there. One patient’s daughter, who wishes to remain anonymous, took great joy from hearing music performed in her mother’s final hours. She said: “We know mum can hear the music and if she could she would be singing along.”

Lucky the smiley black Labrador delighted patients at the hospiceLucky the smiley black Labrador delighted patients at the hospice

That music was provided by Patricia Hammond and Judith Flint, from MiH who performed songs including 1939 Wizard Of Oz favourite, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, and piano pieces by Chopin. The established musicians performed to patients, their carers and families in IPU for more than one hour, at their bedsides and along the wards.

Just before Christmas there was a sing-song with John Orchard of Shep’s Banjo Boys, from 1970s TV series The Comedians.

Rowena Smith and Sonia Marchant, from PAT, brought four-legged friend Lucky in to meet patients. He was a hit throughout the Hospice and patients stroked and held the black Labrador while PAT’s handlers led Lucky around the wards.

Rowena said: “As a pet owner, we all think our dogs are special, however it is not until we make a visit to somewhere like the Hospice that we realise the difference our dogs can make to other people. The joy and relaxation that the dog can bring to patients who are stressed or confused is amazing. The effect of the visit is wonderful to see, it can remind people of dogs they owned in the past and they can remember the happy times they had with their own dog.”

Debbie Raven, Director of Patient and Family Services at Thames Hospice, said: “It has been a pleasure and a privilege to see the effect these events have had on our patients and their families. It is important that we are able to address not only physical but also psychological needs when people are staying with us and sometimes, a song or a visit from a furry friend can really help to raise a smile and make the day more pleasurable.”

The programme has also helped create another volunteering opportunity. Mary Crocker has been a fundraiser there for many years and has taken on the role of Volunteer Entertainment Coordinator.

Charlotte Fielder, Volunteer Services Manager, said: “These activities are much appreciated by our patients and their families, but not something that we could pay for. Luckily we now have Mary who can take on this role as a volunteer and find entertainers who are happy to give up their time for free.”

Activities take place free of charge to the Hospice and its patients, their family and carers, and do not disrupt the nurses’ core activities.

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Those little tokens add up

Well done to Waitrose shoppers in Beaconsfield who supported the store’s Community Matters Scheme so that £333 could be donated to The Horse Trust at Speen, Bucks. Our photo shows the trust’s Lucy Compton receiving a cheque from Alison Lambert of Waitrose.

Just before Christmas, Hamish, an abandoned two-year-old miniature Shetland, arrived at Speen with a broken pelvis. He will have a lifetime of sanctuary there and you can sponsor him from £2 a month. See www.horsetrust.org.uk or call 01494 488464.

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