For Angela, the Jingle Bell Jog kick-starts the festive season. It’s a chance to bring family and friends together, whilst also celebrating the memories of loved ones who are sadly no longer with us. Read her inspiring story and discover why she dons a Santa suit and bushy white beard to support her local hospice…  

I’ve been taking part in the Jingle Bell Jog for five years now and every year, I look forward to it. I just love the atmosphere on the day – it’s such a fantastic way to get everyone together and kick-start the Christmas festivities, whilst also remembering our loved ones.

Every year, our Jingle Bell Jog team seems to gets bigger and bigger. There will be 33 of us this time, including babies, toddlers, children, teenagers, parents and grandparents! In 2016, I was eight months pregnant when I went round the course and this year, I’m seven months pregnant so the group will be even bigger come 2019!

There are eight families that come together to do the run – the Andrews, the Henrys, the Scamps, the Cookseys, the Brennans, the Williams, the Roberts and the Pugh’s. We have such a giggle as we get dressed up in our Santa suits – it’s such a sight to see us all dressed in red and wearing our bushy white beards!

Of course, whilst we have lots of fun during the run, we also take part to celebrate and remember our loved ones. Unfortunately, this year has been particularly upsetting for us all, as we have lost many friends and members of our family.

In February 2018, my friend’s wonderful father, David, sadly passed away whilst staying at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice’s Inpatient Unit. My friend Louise and her family will be taking part in the Jingle Bell Jog for the first time this year, as she wanted to show her appreciation for the outstanding care her father and their family received.

My brother-in-law Gareth also lost his father, Chris, this year. Chris has a big family and so when he stayed at the Hospice, he was able to use the Harry Moseley Family Centre. The family were so grateful that Chris was able to stay in that room – it was like having their own apartment, which had a personal kitchen, dining area, living room, bathroom and spare bedroom for family to sleep over. It was a lovely private space and it meant that Chris’ grandchildren could spend time with him in an environment that was comfortable and homely. I know Gareth and his brother Phillip were so thankful that Chris’ final moments were spent in comfort and that they could remain by their dad’s side until the very end.

Gareth’s mother, Joyce, was also cared for by the Hospice’s doctors and nurses in 2007. Joyce stayed at the Hospice too and the family were grateful for the wonderful care she and they received. Over the years, Gareth has done lots of fundraising for Birmingham St Mary’s as a way of saying thank you, including Birmingham’s first ever marathon, which he completed last year. 

Heartbreakingly, I lost my amazing brother-in-law and great friend, Dale, just last month. He was only 50-years-young when he passed away. Dale remained at home throughout his illness thanks to his wonderful wife Kathleen and Birmingham St Mary’s impeccable ‘Hospice at Home’ team. The Hospice’s nurses were just incredible – they made sure he could spend his last days at home, both in peace and in comfort. Dale and Kathleen’s three young children – Maisie, Molly and Henry – are receiving child bereavement support from the Hospice too. At this difficult time, having that extra support is really helping the children to learn how to cope with their loss. Sadly, Dale has always taken part in the Jingle Bell Jog with us so his presence will be hugely missed this year. I know we will be remembering him every step of the way though.

Last month, we also lost a great family friend, Jack. Jack spent time at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice before he passed away and again, the care and support he and his family received were just second to none.

Whilst this year has been particularly saddening for us all, it has once again highlighted the amazingly important work that Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice do. It emphasises the incredible impact that the Hospice’s facilities and staff can have on patients, their family, friends and loved ones in a time of real distress.

I am so grateful for everything the Hospice has done for our family and friends. That’s why I will be once again, donning my Santa suit this festive season to take part in the Jingle Bell Jog. I look forward to a day filled with family, friendship and fun and I can’t wait to join this fantastic celebration for all those we love and miss so very, very much.

Thank you Angela for sharing your wonderful story with us. Every penny raised at the Jingle Bell Jog will help more families and loved ones – like Angela’s – to receive the expert care and support they need.

If you would like to find out more about the Jingle Bell Jog, or to sign up, please take a look here.