A HOSPICE charity has made a leap year donation plea to cover the cost of providing its services on February 29.

Herriot Hospice Homecare puts the financial burden of the extra day of the year at £12,500, and urging people to help it raise the funds needed.

The charity has been providing personalised care for people living with a terminal illness throughout Hambleton and Richmondshire for more than 30 years. Last year, the HOME service team cared for 166 people.

Healthcare assistants including Helen Griffith travel hundreds of miles each week to help people remain in their own homes in the last days and weeks of their lives.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Vicky Little, Tracey Plews, and Helen Griffith outside the Lambert

“There’s nothing more rewarding than supporting people at the most vulnerable time, making that special connection," said Helen.

“Little things can make a huge difference – for example, a smile, holding hands, playing someone’s favourite music and having a chat.

“It’s a chance for people to feel like themselves and not just an illness.”

As well as delivering the HOME Service and a Wellbeing Network, the charity has spent the last 12 months working to open a new in-patient hospice at the former Lambert hospital in Thirsk.

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Lambert project is moving closer to completion

Herriot Hospice@The Lambert will offer in-patient hospice care, bereavement support rooms, a café and community hub.

The £1.7m project, made possible by the generosity of supporters and the community, will mean people don’t have to make long and uncomfortable journeys when they, or someone important to them, is at the end of their life.

This week, a small team of HOME Service healthcare assistants were thrilled to get a sneak peek at the transformation, with contractors shortly concluding their work. The charity is now putting the finishing touches, including furnishings, to Herriot Hospice@The Lambert.

Vicky Little, a HOME Service healthcare assistant, said; “For me, Herriot Hospice@The Lambert is something that is going to be so special for our community. For years, people have had to make difficult decisions on how and where they access the vital care they need simply because a hospice building is so far away from their home. I’m proud that going forward we can offer more choice and better tailored support to the families we care for.”

Darlington and Stockton Times: Vicky Little, Tracey Plews, and Helen Griffith outside the Lambert

Recognising the significant support it has received for Herriot Hospice@The Lambert, the charity will be inviting residents to a special event this May, with more details to be announced the coming weeks.

In the mean time, it is appealing for help to cover the cost of leap year day with donations.

Ways to donate:

Online: Visit the dedicated online fundraising page by clicking here

By phone: Call the Herriot Hospice Homecare Supporter Care Team on 01609 777 413.

By cheque: Made payable to Herriot Hospice Homecare and posted to Herriot Hospice Homecare, Crimple House, Hornbeam Park Avenue, Harrogate, HG2 8NA.

At your nearest Herriot Hospice Homecare shop: Visit a Herriot Hospice Homecare charity shop in Bedale, Masham, Richmond, Stokesley or Thirsk and make your donation at the till.

The difference hospice care makes

For Sue Randles, having the Herriot Hospice Homecare Team’s support with caring for her husband Alan made all the difference so that he could stay at home, where he wanted to be.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Alan Randles

Grandfather, Alan Randles, of Pickhill, near Thirsk, was adored by his family: an intelligent and strong-willed man with every hobby under the sun. He loved playing the electric guitar as well as computers and cars.

Alan received care from Herriot Hospice healthcare assistants in the three months before he died of kidney cancer in October.

Sue said: “From the minute the Herriot Hospice Homecare team came in, they were amazing. They were so lovely with Alan and encouraged him at every stage.

“They supported him with the little things like combing his hair, brushing his teeth and changing the duvet to help him feel comfortable.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Sue and Alan Randles

“Before the healthcare assistants came, I was struggling to cope and was finding it very difficult physically and emotionally. Their support took so much pressure off. It meant I could do nice things with him, or just sit and chat.

“Over the three months, we and the team really got to know one another well so that it never felt like strangers coming into our home. The healthcare assistants had such a wonderful attitude – they would make conversation with him just like a friend. Alan was so polite to them, thanking them for their help. He kept his sense of humour!

“The flexibility of their care was really important. They always listened and adjusted their visits to suit us and were there whenever I needed extra help.

“The team were always there for me, which was a big bonus. They would take the time to chat and ask how our grandchildren were. If our grandchildren were here, they would chat to them too.

“The Herriot Hospice Homecare team are wonderful people and they do an amazing job. I am keen to do anything I can to help them.”