Dear Larry

John Leicester is first to admit that he knew very little about what we do here at Saint Francis Hospice until he needed us.
John Leicester

When John's mum and his Uncle Harry were diagnosed with cancer, we took both under our care. Annie Leicester suffered from crippling anxiety for most of her life. As lung cancer took hold, her worries became worse. When Annie came to our Hospice, John noticed an instant lift in his mum's physical and mental wellbeing, thanks to our doting team:


"Everyone at the Hospice was superb. They put mum at ease and made her comfortable with such personable care.


"She was your typical East End girl who liked to help everyone," John fondly recalled.


Larry Leicester was John's dad and Annie's husband of 47 years. When 'Lal' passed away in 2004, Annie wrote to him every day:


"When she was having a bad time, mum would often write to dad saying how much she missed him and needed a cuddle." Twenty-nine of Annie's diaries now adorn John's shelf at home.


When Annie reached the final weeks of her life, she once again put pen to paper to express her wishes. Annie was ready to be reunited with Larry. She had waited 14 years for this special occasion and wanted to look good.


Annie joked about being taken to the "hothouse" and laid out what she wanted to wear: a nightie teamed with a silk dressing gown. She wanted to don a hat to hide the effects of chemotherapy while clutching a photo of her and Larry.


John didn't expect the attention we gave his mum to extend to him and his family. When Annie passed away peacefully at the age of 81, he didn't expect that care to continue beyond her death.


"The Hospice helped my family with the dying and grieving process. They explained what was happening and how we could cope with it."


A member of John's family is now receiving one-to-one bereavement therapy from our Family Support Team.


During her last moments, Annie made a promise to her son:


"I need to make sure some money comes your way. I'll have a chat with Lal up there in heaven and see what he can do."


Annie was an avid player of our weekly Lottery. When she passed away, John started playing in his mum's place and signed up on her birthday:


"I wasn't interested in winning; I just wanted to put some money back into the Hospice and say thank you."


In a happy twist of fate, John's number came up seven months after he lost his mum. He won £10,500.


John discovered that our Hospice is very much about living, rather than dying. As well as keeping Annie's memory alive, he has one more of his mum and dad's wishes to fulfil. Annie held on to her husband's ashes for this moment.


John and his sister Kim will scatter their mum and dad's ashes off the coast of Cornwall, where Larry was evacuated to in WWII.


John hasn't decided how he is going to spend his winnings yet, but what he does know is that he is going to give some of it back to our Hospice:


"You can't put a price on the Hospice's care." he said.


Thank you, John.


Every week, someone will win £1,000 in our weekly draw. The jackpot can reach anything up to £25,000.


If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning the jackpot while helping people like Annie live their final moments in dignity, happiness and comfort, you can sign up for our Lottery here, email lottery@sfh.org.uk, or call 01708 050 2177.

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