THIS is the month of Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign - the Great Daffodil Appeal - and people across the district have been collecting funds in supermarkets and on streets.

By giving up a couple of hours, and encouraging others to donate and wear a daffodil, volunteers help to fund more Marie Curie nurses to care for people with a terminal illness.

Last year Marie Curie raised over £250,000 in the region, and in 2019 the Charity is hoping to raise over £285,000.

Volunteering and fundraising plays a fundamental role in supporting the nursing service. In 2017/18, Marie Curie nurses cared for more than 4,000 patients across Yorkshire, and made over 14,000 home visits.

Phillippa Miller from Ilkley, who began volunteering for Marie Curie five years ago when her best friend, Barbara Canter, died at Marie Curie’s Bradford hospice.

“I decided to give something back,” she says. “The level of care that Barbara received was second to none and the nurses always went above and beyond the call of duty - nothing was too much trouble. Witnessing firsthand the amazing work of the charity has inspired me to volunteer. I’m a firm believer that anyone suffering a terminal illness should have access to a Marie Curie nurse.”

Adds Philippa: “I met Barbara 41 years ago when I was pregnant and we hit it off immediately. She was unconventional in every sense of the word. She was a breath of fresh air with a zest for life, and the kindest person I have ever met.

“Her husband, Ron, was 11 years her junior and it was a running joke that he would be sprightly enough to take care of her in her old age. Not long after Barbara had been diagnosed with lung cancer, Ron had a massive heart attack and died in June 2014 - six months before Barbara succumbed to cancer at the age of only 59.

“Barbara spent her final few weeks in the hospice and family and friends were encouraged to visit anytime. The hospice is a peaceful haven and I shall always remember fondly our final evening together, which involved eating curry and sipping champagne. Given her quirky personality, it seemed a fitting tribute and testament to the kindness of the staff who enabled this to happen.”

Now Phillippa volunteers for Marie Curie twice a year, “but more if I’m free when they’re busy with campaigns”.

During last year’s Great Daffodil Appeal she collected over £200, and has been helping out again this year, wearing her Great Daffodil badge with pride.

For the fourth year running, volunteer Julia Cranston has created a magnificent daffodil cake to mark the appeal.

The cake - which took three days to produce and features 70 handmade sugar paste daffodils - was taken to the Bradford hospice for patients, visitors and nurses to enjoy.

Julia, who creates speciality cakes for all occasions, has supported Marie Curie for many years, helping to raise awareness and attending events.

“It has been a privilege to be involved in the charity’s Great Daffodil Appeal once again,” says Julia. “The campaign is not only vital in raising much needed money but pivotal in ensuring that more people understand the nature of the work the charity does when caring for people suffering a terminal illness.”

Faye Cryer, Marie Curie’s Community Fundraiser, adds: “Our nurses care for people in their own homes, providing one-to-one care overnight and support for family members. And we’re always here with expert information, guidance or a shoulder to lean on. It’s thanks to the kindness and generosity of people like Julia that Marie Curie can continue to provide care and support to people suffering a terminal illness so they can live their final days with dignity, in the place they want to be.”

Marie Curie helps people living with a terminal illness and their families, delivering expert hands-on care, emotional support, research and guidance. The charity employs more than 2,700 nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals, and is the largest provider of hospice beds outside the NHS.

On Sunday about 100 people turned out for the Great Daffodil Walk, through Myrtle Park and the St Ives Estate in Bingley.

Organised by the Bradford Hospice Fundraising Group, the event raised over £2,900 for the charity.

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Emma Clayton