Tributes paid to stalwart St Catherine’s nurse and volunteer
Tributes have been paid to a stalwart of St Catherine’s Hospice who first joined the organisation as an auxiliary nurse back in the 1980s and then continued to serve the charity tirelessly as a shop manager and volunteer.
Pam Briggs died on Saturday February 13 on her 68th birthday after suffering a severe heart attack following heart surgery. She was able to return to the hospice which meant so much to her and spend her final time there with people she loved.
Everyone is welcome to a memorial service for Pam which will take place on Saturday March 12 at St Ambrose Church in Leyland at 1.30pm, followed by refreshments courtesy of the Mother’s Union – where Pam was also a keen volunteer – in the church hall.
Guests are invited to wear an item of pink and to lay a single pink flower at the front of the church on arrival in honour of Pam’s favourite colour. A fundraising page has also been set up in her memory, with proceeds to St Catherine’s – click here or text PAMS68 followed by the amount to 70070.
Pam worked on the in-patient unit at St Catherine’s in the early days of the hospice following its opening in 1985. When a motorbike accident around 20 years ago forced her to have her right leg amputated, she moved across to manage the charity’s gift shop.
Following her retirement a few years ago, Pam continued to serve the charity tirelessly as a volunteer. She was always a regular presence at hospice fundraising events – helping out at everything from the Moonlight and Memories Walk to Yellow Day and Symphony at the Tower.
But it was perhaps leading the St Catherine’s Craft Group which she was best known for more recently. The dedicated group of ladies meet once a month at the hospice to work on all sorts of hand-made cards and gifts which are sold to raise valuable funds to support the charity’s work.
Speaking from her stall at the craft market at last year’s St Catherine’s Christmas Festival, Pam told of how much she loved still being involved.
She said: “I volunteer, because the hospice is in my heart. I feel like I still belong here, even though I am a volunteer now.
“Once you start working here you don’t want to let it go. The hospice becomes a very special part of your life. There’s nowhere else like it and I love managing the craft ladies and being part of such an amazing community.”
Pam, the middle child of five, leaves behind a brother, sister, son, daughter and three treasured grandchildren, along with many dear friends.
Her sister Chris Walton, whom Pam looked after following the death of their mother when Chris was just 13, said it had been obvious even as a child that Pam was destined to join a caring profession.
Chris said: “That was the kind of person she was and then later, when she joined the hospice’s retail side, that became her vocation too. She was given the nickname Auntie Wainwright – from Last of the Summer Wine – because you could never walk past without her getting you to buy something! There was nothing she liked better than to see the profits rolling in for St Catherine’s.
“She had such energy and gave herself 100%. to whatever she turned her hand to. And she was so encouraging to others – she would inspire you to get involved and have a go too. After the accident, she refused to let her disability define her – she remained as independent and determined as ever, and I think that’s an important lesson for us all.
“St Catherine’s was her life – it felt like home. That’s why it was so important that she returned to the hospice – she died within half an hour of being there, but I truly believe she held on to be able to do that. It is what she would have wanted.”
Janet Wilson, a staff nurse who was interviewed on the same day as Pam back in 1985 before the hospice even opened its doors, said: “Pam and I go way back, right to the opening day of St Catherine’s and even before that. The room where the interviews were held was actually a sitting room back then but now it is patient room number 4 – the room where Pam died. So right at the end, she returned to where it all started, which seems fitting.
“Working with Pam on the ward was always such fun. She was known for playing tricks, particularly on Matron on April Fool’s Day – like the time she hid her uniform in the fireplace in her office!”
Janet, also a member of the craft group, added: “Pam had the gift of being able to make everyone feel special. She was a truly amazing person and I shall miss her so much. The craft group will continue on in Pam’s memory, raising funds for the place which she loved so dearly.”
Ann Loan also has fond memories of Pam from her time as a ward volunteer at St Catherine’s in the eighties. She too remembers her ‘mischievous’ side and said: “I’d often come out of a room to find my trolley had gone walkabout and Pam had hidden it!
“Joking aside, she was a super friend to me. Whenever there were ups and downs she was always there for me, and I know she provided a shoulder to cry on for lots of people.
“There will never be anyone who can replace Pam – from her pink hair to her pink leg, she was truly one of a kind.”
Stephen Greenhalgh, Chief Executive of St Catherine’s Hospice for the past 10 years, also paid tribute to Pam’s remarkable spirit.
“For me, Pam epitomised everything that is wonderful and good about St Catherine’s,” he said. “I hold her in the highest possible regard and feel privileged beyond measure to have known this inspiring bundle of enthusiasm, compassion and heartfelt love.”
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