Tom’s birthday gift for St Catherine’s in memory of dear wife Mona
A World War Two veteran who served as a volunteer in the early days of St Catherine’s Hospice has given the charity a 30th birthday gift pledged in memory of his dear wife.
Tom Hicks has bought a specialist bed and pressure relieving mattress from the hospice’s Give A Gift appeal list, which highlights 30 different ways individuals, businesses, schools and groups can show their support during 2015.
The generous gift is dedicated to the memory of his wife of 49 years, Mona, who he met, fell in love with and married within weeks in 1944. Five days after their wedding near his temporary base in Scotland, Tom left to continue his service as navigator on a submarine with the Royal Navy – not returning until 16 months later.
Both Tom and Mona were volunteer drivers for the hospice during the early days of St Catherine’s in 1986 and 87, when they used to transport patients to and from day therapy. Mona also gave her time as an assistant in the kitchen, helping to prepare meals for those staying on the in-patient unit.
Mona sadly died from bone marrow cancer in 1993 aged 71. Tom cared for her at home in Lostock Hall throughout her lengthy illness, with some support and advice from St Catherine’s.
Since then Tom, who met Mona at a dance in February 1944 and married her the same June, has kept the legacy of his love alive in many different ways.
He regular pledges donations in her memory to St Catherine’s – including through the Christmas Light Up A Life campaign.
Tom and his family – which includes daughters Barbara, Margaret and Rosemary and son John, who has Down’s syndrome – are also regulars at the hospice’s fundraising events and The Mill cafe, which opened in the hospice grounds last year.
Tom, aged 92, said: “The hospice was part of our life – when it opened Mona and I wanted to do something for others, and that’s when we signed up as a volunteers.
“I have continued that support over the years in memory of Mona. I saw the birthday gift list and decided I would like to buy St Catherine’s a bed – then I thought, well what good is a bed without a mattress? So I decided to go the whole hog and get one of those too.
“She had a great respect for this place. She would be pleased that the gift was being used to provide something so practical, which will be of great comfort to those who need it. This is a gift from all our family to St Catherine’s and we’re very proud to show our support. I hope my story will help draw attention to the wonderful service provided to our community by St Catherine’s, and that it might encourage others to support this worthwhile cause.”
Tom’s fantastic support also includes writing 12 verses of poetry for special diaries he prints each year to raise funds for the hospice and his local church. He has also handed over a book of poems called ‘For love of Mona’ about love and loss to St Catherine’s, in the hope that others facing illness and bereavement may find some support from the words.
Tom, who remembers there was ‘no wedding dress, no cake, no photographer’ when they tied the knot with a guy he had met at a bus stop the day before as Best Man, explained: “I think when people are facing such difficult times, it can feel like a very lonely time – an isolating experience, believing that you are the only one to have felt this way.
“Friends and relatives have told me they have found some comfort and solace in my poems, knowing that they are not alone. I wanted to give St Catherine’s a copy with the thought that some of the families who are in contact with their work might benefit from reading some of the verses within it.”
Lorna Wastell, In-Patient Unit manager at St Catherine’s, thanked Tom for his wonderful support and said: “The generosity he, Mona and his family have both shown over the years has been wonderful – from the incredibly valuable gift of their time when volunteering, to their attendance at fundraising events, and of course these latest donations in honour of our 30th anniversary.
“The bed and mattress will make such a difference to those patients who come to stay with us here at St Catherine’s, offering much-needed comfort. On behalf of everyone at St Catherine’s, I’d like to say a huge thank you for their amazing contribution.”
To find out more about the Give A Gift campaign and how you can pledge your support click here, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01772 695290.
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