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Jean's legacy

At St Oswald’s, we are always touched when someone decides to leave a legacy gift to the hospice in their Will. To have been in their thoughts while preparing their Will means so much to all of our staff and volunteers and the difference a legacy gift can make, no matter what the size, can have a big impact.

We wanted to share with you the story of Jean Muncaster, a lady who lived in Newcastle and had no known connection to St Oswald’s Hospice throughout her life. With no living family, Jean chose to leave her entire estate to St Oswald’s Hospice and the sizable legacy gift proved to be a life-line to the hospice in 2020, during our most difficult year in our 35 year history.

Jean had lived her life just off Newcastle’s West Road. She worked as a secretary at Proctor & Gamble and later at British Telecom and she enjoyed knitting and cooking in her spare time. Jean was very close to her son Jeff, a retired teacher, and the pair lived happily together until Jeff sadly passed away in 2011. After Jeff’s death, a former colleague and friend of his decided to look out for Jean, and the pair became close, with him inviting Jean to family events, helping her with her garden and taking her on shopping trips. He introduced Jean to his sister Cath, and the pair became friends, meeting for regular coffees and catch-ups.

Cath said:

“Jean and Jeff were so close. They had many interests in comment and loved flying and anything to do with Concord. They travelled to many places together and enjoyed life, so you can imagine how heartbroken she was when he died not long after his retirement. 

“Jean has no other family so my brother wanted to make sure she had practical support around the house, but also company too. He did her garden for her and took her out every Tuesday, which they both really enjoyed. My family invited her to join us at Christmas and she came our family weddings and occasions. Jean was a wonderful woman, quite a fiery character. One time, my brother had popped round to find her trying to cut trees in her back garden with a chainsaw she’d bought at B&Q. She hadn’t been happy with a quote from tree surgeon so she decided to do it herself! He quickly stopped her, but that was Jean all over. She was very thrifty and an avid saver as she wanted to leave as much money as she could after she had gone, to make a difference to others.“

 “One day, Jean came to me and asked me to make her an appointment so she could make her Will. She was a very determined lady who knew her own mind, so I arranged an appointment through a solicitor that colleagues at the hospice recommended and drove her to the appointment. I made sure that she went in alone, so any decisions she made were entirely her own. I know it gave her huge peace of mind to know that her affairs were in order. That was very important to her”  

After Jean sadly died in 2020 aged 86, Cath was contacted by the solicitors acting as executors of Jean’s will. Jean had told Cath that she has planned to leave a legacy to the hospice, but Cath was unaware of the size of the gift. Jean’s Will revealed that she had chosen St Oswald’s as the beneficiary for her entire estate including the sale of her home, its contents and her savings and investments, as she had heard how, from Cath’s volunteer work over the past ten years, the charity supports the North East community.

Cath continued:

“Eleven years ago, I has throat cancer and I attended a weekly support group at the hospice, and then the Lymphoedema centre for treatment. They really looked after me and helped me through a difficult time, so I wanted to give something back, and I have been volunteering ever since. I often told Jean about the work that goes on at St Oswald’s.  After Jeff’s death, a gift was made in his name to the hospice, but it was so overwhelming to discover that Jean had left so much to the hospice in her own Will.”

It was November 2020, not long after the country went back into lockdown, that St Oswald’s had news from Jean’s solicitor about her generous gift. At a time when much of the usual fundraising activity was limited due to government restrictions, receiving a legacy like this really was a lifeline for the hospice.

Steph Edusei, Chief Executive at St Oswald’s Hospice added:

“Legacy gifts are a vital source of income for the hospice, accounting for around 20% of donations received in total. Every single donation is important to us, but a legacy gift is very special. For someone to have thought about St Oswald’s in their final wishes means so much to our staff and volunteers, but in Jean’s case, she really did throw us a lifeline in the most difficult of years.

“We really wish we could have thanked Jean and Jeff for their wonderful legacy, which we will make sure will continue to make a difference in their community. As a small gesture to honour Jean and Jeff’s support of the hospice,  we have named the centre where our bereavement support sessions take place ‘The Muncaster Family Support Centre’ as a lasting tribute to these wonderful people.”

If you would like to hear more about leaving a legacy to St Oswald’s Hospice, visit www.stoswaldsuk.org/free-wills