Continuing Bonds with Alwyn

“This whole process has been more than I had imagined, in a really positive way, despite and including the opening up of emotions together.” Melanie, Alwyn’s daughter

Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds is a collaboration between St Oswald’s Hospice and Local Artist, Leanne Pearce. Working with 12 bereaved and pre-bereaved families who have accessed our bereavement support service and/or other care services, Leanne has created stunning paintings of their loved ones to support them in their ‘continuing bonds’ process. Here is the story of one of the families who took part in this unique and beautiful project.

Alwyn was 33 when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She was initially given 6 months to live but with operations and various treatments fought a tough 7-year battle.

Mum to Michael, Melanie and Amy, sister to Rosamond and Pamela, and wife to Alan, Alwyn was referred to St Oswald’s Hospice where she accessed a range of care services over the years.

She spent her final months in the Adult Inpatient Service. Her daughter, Melanie, remembered how peaceful it was visiting her mum in her room that looked out to the garden and how she was helped to feel comfortable in her surroundings even though it wasn’t home.

Son, Michael, recalled how accommodating the staff were and how they would allow him to visit his mum in his football kit after he played in the evenings during the week.

Amy, Alwyn’s youngest, remembered dashing home from school each day to call her mum at the hospice. The nurses would wheel the phone trolley to her room in readiness for her call. Amy would update her mum with all the details of her day and find out which teddy she should bring in that evening for visiting.

Alwyn died on August 11th 1991, aged 40, leaving her young children, sisters and the rest of the family, bereft.

They have spent the last 33 years remembering Alwyn, but their grief and deep sense of loss has never left them.

When another relative was cared for at the hospice in 2023, Melanie saw through adult eyes how special the care her mum had received years before was. Along with other family members, she joined in with our first ever Giving Day to raise funds for the hospice.

“We didn’t get bereavement support at the time – it wasn’t available then. But in hindsight, it’s something that would really have helped us as a family. I’m so pleased that St Oswald’s Hospice offer it now, especially to children and teens like we were. Amy and I have both had bereavement support elsewhere in more recent years and it really helped.”

Melanie, Alwyn’s daughter.

She added: “This whole process has been more than I had imagined, in a really positive way, despite and including the opening up of emotions together.”

Melanie, Amy and their 2 Aunts chose a pink background for the portrait because Alwyn loved pink – everything was pink from her slippers to the dusky pink carpet!

Our care: Outpatients Service, Adult Inpatient Service.

Visit our Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds exhibition

Opening during Dying Matters Awareness Week, Portraits with Purpose: Continuing Bonds exhibition will be on display at Newcastle Civic Centre 10th – 17th May, 2024 (exc Sunday) on the following days and times:

• 9.30am – 4.30pm weekdays

• 10am – 3pm Saturday

There will also be a special Meet the Artist event 11am – 2pm on Saturday 11th May.

Find out more about the project and read other families’ stories below.

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