Leamington and Whitnash Trees of Light campaign makes a difference for Myton Hospices' patients and their families

The giant Christmas tree outside Leamington Town Hall will have its lights switched on to mark the launch the 2021/22 fundraising campaign this weekend

The Rotary Club of Royal Leamington Spa is appealing for people to support its Trees of Light campaign again this year to help families in their darkest times such as the Broad Family.

Christmas 2015 was an unthinkably tough time for the Broads.

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That December, mum Joe was diagnosed with HER2-positive breast cancer - a particularly aggressive form of the disease.

Joe Broad with her husband Dean and sons Zac and Olly.

Just two weeks later Joe and her husband Dean were told the cancer was in her bones.

The couple and their two young sons, Zac and Olly, now 14 and ten, were faced with the devastating news that remission from cancer was not going to happen.

Brave Joe fought ‘like a warrior" over the years, enduring treatments and side effects to battle her cancer – including whole brain radiotherapy when then discovered the cancer had spread to her brain in July 2019.

But, in May 2020, two weeks after the couple's 15th wedding anniversary, Joe died, aged just 46.

Dean said: “In May 2020 my gorgeous wife finally became free of pain, reunited with her dad and sister.

"Throughout her battle Joe has been the best mum, wife, daughter and friend to many.

“She fought a fight any warrior would be proud of.”

Before her death, Joe spent two weeks at Coventry Myton Hospice for pain management and symptom control, before being discharged home.

As well as nursing and medical care, Joe received complementary therapy to help her relax and was pampered by the staff at the hospice, which made a real difference to how she felt.

Her friends and children were able to visit her, and both Joe and Dean had counselling support from the team at Myton – support that ten-year-old Olly has been accessing since his mum died through the charity's children’s bereavement service.

With donations in memory of Joe, in lieu of flowers and sponsorship for his cycling, Dean, his friends and family raised over £4,200 for The Myton Hospices.

“The Myton Hospices were alongside Joe all the way, they supported us in the darkest of times, and still are supporting us today,” added Dean.

Members of the Rotary Club of Royal Leamington Spa are again aiming to raise thousands of pounds for the Myton Hospices through their Christmas Trees of Light campaign in Leamington and Whitnash.

Everyone is invited to have the names of their absent loved ones displayed on lists around the towns and dedicating a light on one of the two giant Christmas trees at Leamington town hall or outside St Margaret's church, by making donations which go directly to The Myton Hospices to support their hospices in Warwick, Coventry and Rugby and the services they provide to the surrounding areas.

Last year the Covid pandemic prevented the usual Switch-on ceremonies with carols, but it is planned that these will return, in Leamington on Sunday November 7 from 3.30pm to 4.30pm with the backing of the Royal Spa Brass band and the Baptist Choir, and in Whitnash at St Margaret's with carol singing and a blessing in the church followed by mince pies and refreshments in the annex on Saturday November 20 from 5.15pm.

The Myton Hospices need every penny even more now, as their income has been markedly diminished by the pandemic which closed all their shops and saw all fund-raising events cancelled leaving them £2,000,000 short.

Despite this, the charity continued its essential work through its Myton at Home support services even though the hospices were shut down for some time.

Leamington Rotary Club president Michael Heath said: "The Trees of Light give me the chance to remember my twin brother and my elder sister, both lost to cancer.

"He passed his last days well supported in a hospice and thus I value the wonderful work of The Myton Hospices.

"I urge everyone to support this campaign to add to the £88,000 that the Trees of Light have generated since 2001."

To donate to the Trees of Light and dedicate the name of a loved one please post your coupon and donation to Kathryn Metcalfe, Trees of Light, The Myton Hospices, Myton Lane, Warwick CV34 6PX, or hand them in to the Visitor Information Centre in the Pump Rooms or to the Whitnash Town Council Offices (additional coupons are available at both and in supporting shops) by 5th January 2022.