“It’s such a vital and valuable service to the Island and something the Island cannot do without.“
“2023 marks my 30th year with Hospice Isle of Man! So, memories are plentiful … it’s knowing where to start and stop!
I joined the team at Hospice as Day Unit Nurse Manager and developed the service with my colleagues Jo Beard and Sue Robinson. Day Unit was the “front window” of Hospice, providing skilled clinical care with a hugely beneficial social element. Relatives and friends were also able to gain quality time during this respite period. I was fortunate to have an amazing team of volunteers; drivers; beauticians; skilled communicators, the list goes on and together we delivered a much needed and appreciated service. We were the first Hospice IOM Service to develop a discharge policy, and this went some way to dispel the traditional image that Hospice was somewhere you went to die. I was the Motor Neurone (MND) Nurse lead for Hospice and we created the MND Pathway for patients, and their families, living with MND. We worked successfully with the MND Association IOM and Dr Mike Boggild at Walton Hospital. I was also on the National Board of Day Unit Team Leaders for Help the Hospice and contributed to the development of Hospice Movement nationally. Hospice Isle of Man has always promoted connecting to other Hospices to ensure we implemented best practice.
I have many cherished memories of this time with patients being at the very centre of our care. To name a few:
We had Steve Colley stunt riding on his motorbike within the Day Unit at the Old St Bridget’s; Amazing VE Day celebrations with patients and families, and an unofficial visit by King Charles when Britannia made a final stop to the island in  (photo). We had invited patients to join us to meet King Charles if he had time in this schedule. Myrtle living with MND waited 5 hours; she used an electronic light writer to communicate. She sat in her wheelchair waiting and unfortunately King Charles walked past her. Given she had waited for so long I shouted “Excuse me! … she has something to say !!”. King Charles turned back, and Myrtle pressed her light writer and an America Electronic voice said: “It is my absolute pleasure to meet the future King of England”. King Charles stayed with her for a few minutes which was an emotional moment for us all! We arranged for Daniel O Donnell to contact “Peggy” going through aggressive Chemotherapy Treatment and we definitely felt his phone call, sending of Posters, CD’S and Concert Tickets gave her not just a superb surprise but also an extended life!
In 2003, John Quinn approached me to “front” the fundraising for existing services of Hospice whilst Sara Palmer, Sir Miles and Lady Mary Walker led the high profile Mighty Oak Campaign for a new Hospice. I shared this role with lovely Trish (Ashworth) Braide who died last year in Hospice. Together we worked hard and exceeded targets. I do owe some of our success to my husband Jerry and his corporate contacts. I have many fun and happy memories of this time. We raised £21k in 21 days with all secondary schools on Island. We also organised a dinner with Prince Andrew at which a coffee table made out of £1 million shredded pounds (made by Andrew Williamson) raised £47k (photo). This period in my Hospice experience made me realise the need to raise sufficient funds to keep the high standard of our vital services and the challenges associated with this. The pennies are as important as the pounds and I often felt very humbled by the actions of those who gave so keenly to us at this time.
Also in 2003, my colleague, Trish and I set up the Hospice Choir in 2003 (which is now 20 years old). We asked Geoff Corkish to oversee and guide us. The choir was made up of Staff, Volunteers and users of Hospice. We practiced from October to December and specifically sang for Light up a life. The Choir continues to this day, 20 years on, practicing from October till December and we now perform at Xmas Fair, Hospice Carol Service, Volunteer Xmas Party, and have done the occasional Manx Radio Outside Broadcast at Hospice!
Subsequently in 2008, John Quinn invited me to join the Board of Hospice and this gave me an insight into the responsibility of setting the overall strategy and direction of Hospice. It was a time I really enjoyed and am so pleased I was able to make some impact on patient care and fundraising both areas of Hospice I had real “hands on” experience of.
After stepping down from the Board, to allow fresh blood and new energy, Hospice was, and still is, part of my “core”! I remain a volunteer and am keen to do what I can for Hospice. It’s such a vital and valuable service to the Island and something the Island cannot do without. The care we give at Hospice has to be just right! We don’t get a second chance! And in the words of Dame Cicely Saunders (who founded the 1st modern Hospice St Christopher’s in the 60’s);
”You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life. We will do all we can not only to help you die peacefully, but also to live until you die. “
Mary Linehan (Nurse Day Unit Manager/ Fundraiser/ Board Member / Volunteer).