Everyday at St Catherine’s Hospice the rattling of drink bottles and clinking of glasses can be heard as the hospice’s drinks trolley makes its way round the Inpatient ward and Day Hospice. Provided free of charge, with donations encouraged, the service is all part of St Catherine’s approach to recognising patients are more than their illness. At a time when so much has been taken away, the drinks trolley gives patients and their visiting family and friends the chance to enjoy their favourite tipple together, brings a smile to people’s faces and is a treat many look forward to.
The drinks trolley has been running at St Catherine’s for six years, with all drinks kindly donated by supporters including Oliver’s Wines, Copthorne and Beam Global. Over the last year, volunteers served 11,000 drinks from the trolley and it’s a very popular part of patient’s days, something Nursing Assistant, Gemma, has noticed: “Our patients really love the drinks trolley. They often ask me when it’s due to do the rounds. It’s a part of our care that really lifts people’s spirits.”
Now, this Christmas, St Catherine’s is asking people to help them spread some Christmas cheer by donating a bottle of alcohol to their drinks trolley. Whether your donation is of the beer, wine or spirit variety, it will enable patients to indulge in a simple pleasure many of us take for granted.
St Catherine’s drinks trolley is something Ann Bray remembers fondly from when her husband, Mike, was an inpatient at the hospice. She said: “Because of his medication, Mike wasn’t able to have much alcohol so usually declined anything from the drinks trolley. However, one evening he requested a glass of champagne. He was definitely not a champagne drinker; best bitter was his preferred drink, so my daughter, Charlotte and I were flabbergasted when he asked for champagne. The lady serving the drinks apologised saying they didn’t have any but, about ten minutes, later a bottle of Cava appeared along with three glasses. As well as champagne, Mike asked for quiche, sausage rolls and vol-al-vents. Not only did he manage to eat and enjoy the food but he also really enjoyed his champagne. That was virtually his last supper and a real party atmosphere – the drinks trolley was a big part of that. To see Mike have his wish granted was very special and a memory that will live with both Charlotte and I forever.”
Each year, the drinks trolley also provides relatives with a unique way to remember their loved one. Some people mark the anniversary of their loved one’s passing by bringing in a bottle of their favourite drink for patients and families currently being cared for to enjoy.
Wayne Stepney, Front of House Services Manager at St Catherine’s, said: “We can’t take away the fact our patients are unwell but we can offer them the opportunity to enjoy the normality of a drink with family and friends over the festive period. Your donations will bring a smile to our patient’s faces and help families create treasured memories. There can be no greater gift this Christmas.”
If a donating a bottle doesn’t tickle your fancy, St Catherine’s are also looking for donations for their sweets table, which is available for all patients and their family and friends to enjoy.
If you would like to make a donation, please bring it to St Catherine’s Hospice in Malthouse Road, Crawley.