A guitar-playing granny, photography lessons and a vibrant summer fair - Nottinghamshire Hospice urges public to see beyond sombre perception

By Joel Moore

A guitar-playing granny, photography lessons and a vibrant summer fair are not the first things that spring to mind at the mention of the word hospice, but staff and patients at Nottinghamshire Hospice are hoping to remove the stigma around the service as it looks to bounce back from Covid.

The hospice, based on Woodborough Road, provides therapy and activities for patients with life-limiting illnesses. They also run an end-of-life service, with staff visiting patients at home.

One of the first things that stands out about the hospice is its loudness. The clinking of cutlery and happy chatter rang out across the dining area, whilst laughter echoed through from the activity room.

It’s exactly this side of the hospice that its staff want the public to see more of. Both they and patients agree there is still a stigma around the idea of a hospice.

Even its new chief executive, Rachel Hucknall, who took over four months ago, said she was guilty of making the same negative assumptions.

“I grew up in Mapperley and I used to get the bus past here all the time,” she told Nottinghamshire Live.

“I used to look in and think it looked so scary behind that wall, I thought it would be a really sombre place.

“Then I remember my grandma said they’re having a summer fair, and I thought it would be awful. But I came and had a really good time, so that really changed my opinion of what a hospice is.”

Ms Hucknall, who has a background in healthcare, admitted many people will think of the centre as a “sober” place, however said that was “something that we’re looking to change”.

“It’s a real hive of activity and it’s all about helping people achieve their goals,” she added.

One such goal was relearning to play the guitar, dreamt of by Elaine Buckley. The 65-year-old grandmother from Mapperley was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, and has been a regular visitor to the hospice since 2018.

Elaine Buckley (Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

“When I came here I couldn’t use my left arm very much at all because of pressure on nerves from tumours,” she said.

“Through here they managed to get me to play the guitar again. I don’t have all the feeling in my arm but I can use it again and I have strength in it.”

As well as this, Ms Buckley said that the hospice had also provided photography lessons as well as teaching her how to use her sewing machine.

“It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” she added.

“You don’t think about what’s wrong with you when you’re here. As Kate (another patient) says, you are Elaine Buckley, not Elaine Buckley with cancer. You can be yourself, yes you sometimes don’t always feel on top of your game but you can still come here.”

Covid still leaves its mark on the ward, limiting group numbers and ensuring visitors still have to wear facemasks. However this is a big change from the depths of the pandemic, when the centre was forced to close.

Chief executive Rachel Hucknall (Joseph Raynor/ Nottingham Post)

Last month, Nottinghamshire Hospice teamed up with Beaumond House Hospice in Newark in an effort to encourage the public to pledge money and help support the service in light of its recent struggles.

Ms Hucknall said she was confident services would not be effected at the hospice, which employs twice as many volunteers than paid staff.

However she added it was a “tricky” year ahead for the hospice, as they look to recover from the pandemic.

“The hardest part for me is knowing that we can secure income for future years," she said.

"It doesn't keep me awake at night, but it's a large responsibility on my shoulders. To make sure that these incredible services that we've got continue to operate."


What is inkl?

Important stories

See news based on value, not advertising potential. Get the latest news from around the world.

Trusted newsrooms

We bring you reliable news from the world’s most experienced journalists in the most trusted newsrooms.

Ad-free reading

Read without interruptions, distractions or intrusions of privacy.