Beautiful 'memory tree' raises nearly £300k for Ipswich hospice

The memory tree at St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswch

The memory tree has become an important focal point at St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich - Credit: St Elizabeth Hospice

Families have praised an "eye-catching" Ipswich hospice memory tree - which has raised nearly £300,000 over 10 years, while helping relatives to remember their loved ones.

Created from a hand-carved bronze trunk and branches, as well as solid brass, aluminum and copper leaves with decorative cast bronze rocks, the memory tree at St Elizabeth Hospice has become a moving focal point for patients, families and staff.

As well as being a tranquil place where they can reflect, its leaves and rocks are engraved with the names of loved ones who have died - symbolising the precious memories of those who have been cared for by the hospice.

The tree can hold 500 dedicated names on its leaves and rocks - and since 2011 has held more than 1,000 names.

Among those to be commemorated on the memory tree is Mel Mayhew, who received care from St Elizabeth Hospice after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in September 2018.

Mel Mayhew pictured with his son, Tom

Mel Mayhew pictured with his son, Tom - Credit: Mayhew family


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The "kind and caring" Flagship Homes worker had tried chemotherapy but was moved to palliative care after the treatment was not effective. 

Born and bred in Suffolk and becoming a popular, much-loved member of his community, he died aged 64 in January 2019.

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His son, Tom Mayhew, said: “While dad was cared for by the hospice, he spoke about how eye-catching the memory tree was.

“He was very close with his colleagues at Flagship Homes and they were keen to give back to the hospice after seeing the care dad had received.

"We decided dedicating a leaf on the memory tree would be a good way of doing this."

He said his father was keen to receive care from the charity "as he had a trust and affection for the hospice after his sister Angela had been cared for there before she passed away".

He praised the care his father received, adding: "Going to the hospice was always his first choice and St Elizabeth staff made him feel comfortable and gave him peace of mind.

"The support of nurses also meant we as a family could focus on being there for dad, as we knew his medical care and comfort was being take care of.

“Even small gestures like offering to help us trim his beard made a big difference to us and dad, who took pride in his appearance."

As well as making a donation to the dedication on the memory tree, Mel Mayhew's former colleagues have continued to fundraise for St Elizabeth Hospice through events like the hospice’s annual Midnight Walk.

Rosalie Sheppard, housing officer at Flagship Homes, said: “We decided to support the St Elizabeth Hospice because this is where Mel spent his final days.

"Mel had to wait for a bed to become available to him but as soon as one did and he has settled in, the care and support he received was exceptional.

"The staff St Elizabeth Hospice staff were truly wonderful in ensuring that, the end-of-life care Mel received was delivered with kindness and compassion.

“To have a place within your community, where people can go to be cared for, where you can visit your loved one easily and patients and visitors alike are cared for with kindness and compassion, is a gift and something to be celebrated.”

To make a dedication to St Elizabeth Hospice’s Memory Tree, visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk/support-us/make-a-donation/donate-in-memory/memory-tree/

To find out more information about St Elizabeth Hospice, call 01473 723600 or visit www.stelizabethhospice.org.uk

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