School’s top class support for local hospice care

We’re celebrating the achievements of Ripon Grammar School who generously chose to support Saint Michael’s during their annual fundraising charity week,.
Two inspirational students encouraged the whole school to get behind the huge fundraising drive for the local hospice care charity, which cared for their fathers before they died.
Louise Taylor’s father Chris, 54, a builder, and Grace Withyman’s father Jim, 49, a barrister, died in Saint Michael’s Hospice, Harrogate last year. Both men had been suffering from cancer.
The girls gave a moving assembly presentation to the whole school to explain how the hospice helped them and their families, urging students to raise money for the hospice during Charity Week, which started on October 22.
Every year RGS raises more than £10,000 with a series of popular events including fun performances, quizzes, cake sales and a non-uniform day. Now both staff and students, who voted overwhelmingly to support Saint Michael’s this year, are hoping they will raise more than ever.
Deputy head girl Louise, 17, from Grewelthorpe, near Ripon, explained how staff at the hospice gave her whole family the vital care and support they needed when her father, who died in December last year, was desperately ill.
“Everyone, from the nurses to the palliative care consultant, was outstanding. You always know there is someone there to speak to if you feel you need to,” said Louise, who has a younger brother, Nicholas, aged 15.
“It’s not like a hospital, it felt more like a home, with a family room and nice sofas, and beds for us to stay. And the chef makes the most amazing biscuits.”
Grace, 16, from Ripon, agreed: “I think it is really important to raise money and I hope we can also raise awareness about what a hospice really is, I wasn’t sure what it was when my dad went in and I want people to know about the incredible work they do.”
She described the care her father received before he died, in January last year, as “amazing”: “In that time when the worst has happened to your family, you feel like nothing could make this time better. But Saint Michael’s does make it better. It is bitter sweet, but I still have nice memories of my dad there.
“The rooms were gorgeous, with big windows and fireplaces and we were able to take him outside to look out over green, open spaces, which was beautiful.
“We tried to do as much stuff as we could together. Over Christmas, we had presents and crackers and the chefs even made me and my mum a special vegetarian meal. The food is really good, and all home-cooked,” said Grace, who has two siblings, Wilf, 14 and Max, 18.
Louise took her fellow upper sixth form students, who organise Charity Week, to visit the Harrogate-based hospice to see for themselves the valuable work it does. A speaker from Saint Michael’s also gave a talk to students in assembly.
And history teacher David Bruce got the fundraising off the starting blocks when he ran the Yorkshire Marathon in October, in 4hrs 1min to raise £1,000 for the hospice.
Louise, who wants to be a doctor, said her experience had opened her eyes to the reality of palliative care: “It makes me very proud to show the rest of the school the great work Saint Michael’s does because I know our fundraising will make such a difference to so many people’s lives.”

Grace and Louise are pictured (centre) with fellow pupils from Ripon Grammar School
Ripon Grammar School’s charity week included activities and musical performances involving both students and staff during break, lunch and after-school including a film night inflatable sessions and a non-uniform day. At the time of writing, the school had raised £4,000 and were hoping to increase this.
Saint Michael’s Hospice plans to spend £6million annually to help provide extra support for local people with a variety of terminal illnesses. It also offers bereavement support services for families. The majority of funds must be raised by the local community.

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