Brian Mitchell signed up to play Your Hospice Lottery when a member of the team called at his door during the summer.
The gentleman asked if I would be interested in signing up for a local lottery, so I said yes and I signed on the spot.
I mentioned to him that my mother, Vera, had spent time at St Helena Hospice, so I think for me, it was a sold thing by the time he arrived. Mum spent a few months there around 10 years ago, and I remember within a day of arriving, she went from looking very unwell and unkempt, to hair brushed, washed, in bed sitting up; she was cared for. It was the best thing for her and great seeing her.
We popped up to see her every day. It was a friendly, relaxed atmosphere at the Hospice. You're not coming into a place of doom and gloom and despondency. I think the general public have an image of a rather sad place, but it's not; it's light, it's very friendly, the nurses were cheerful. Marvellous. They did a good job.
Her condition improved and she went from the Hospice to a care home by the sea, where she was looked after well for her last few months. It was the best thing for her going to the Hospice first, which is why when the gentleman knocked on the door as soon as he said about St Helena, I thought it's on the doorstep, it's my local Hospice, we have a connection, and the money all goes into the Hospice, which is great.
I had been signed up less than a year when I won £1,000. We are very careful, very conscious about scams, so when we were having a meal in town and someone phoned up to say we had won and asked, ‘do you want it transferred into the bank account’, my wife said don’t give your bank details, so I said, I'll take a cheque! And they wrote me a cheque and we could see it was real, so it was very nice.
I wouldn't even have remembered I had the lottery because I don't check it and I pay by direct debit.
I didn’t spend the winnings on a specific item, I just enjoyed it. I can enjoy it and have a connection to Mum. So, I think oh come on, let’s go out and we'll have a meal on Mum or something. So that's a good connection to Mum.
I'm not sentimental in that sort of respect. I look at it and think, if she enjoyed the last few months in the Hospice better than she would have done, that's a bonus.
This is the only lottery I do and to be honest, when I bought it, I didn't do it for the am I going to win? I do it because it's local, it's just a small amount a month and I'm pleased that I'm doing it because it has a local connection. What I pay per month is probably a fraction of what people would pay on coffees.
At the Hospice I think you need to isolate it from the sadness of why you're there. As soon as she went there, I thought wow. I can vividly remember she didn't know where she was or who she was but when she was there, she was up in bed all done up and chatting to me and my brother and it was a fleeting glimpse of how she used to be, it was lovely. That would probably be the last positive memory of her as she was, it was a little burst of how she was 20 years before she died, before she even got ill.
I'm quite philosophical. She had a happy life. She had a good life. Enjoy. Celebrate. Things move on, you know. The lottery is a nice opportunity to be able to say thank you to St Helena Hospice for what they did for the family and for Mum.
To find out more about the fantastic work of St Helena Hospice, visit their website: www.sthelena.org.uk