IMG_2861AFTERNOON tea in the luxurious surroundings of a five star hotel brought smiles in abundance to the faces of patients of a hospice and their carers.

More than 20 day patients from St Benedict’s Hospice, Ryhope, Sunderland, enjoyed the tea at Seaham Hall Hotel & Spa before sitting in the glorious sunshine on the hotel’s beautiful terrace.

The hospice had worked with the patients to discover what they wanted to put on their bucket lists as part of Dying Matters Week and the patients were keen to treat their family and carers with afternoon tea.

Seaham Hall stepped in and gave the hospice free room hire, a reduced price on their afternoon tea package and a few extra treats from the chef.

St Benedict’s day patients Ann O’Halloran and Sharon Hall praised the excellent service at the hotel.

Said Sharon: “It’s been wonderful. The service has been fabulous and they’ve made everyone feel very special.”

“It felt like a pamper day,” added Ann. “It’s something you would never do for yourself so it’s been lovely.”

James O’Donnell, the hotel’s manager, said: “The hospice is a place that is close to many people’s hearts. We’ve had people who’ve worked here who have recovered from cancer and some who are going through it at the moment. It’s unfortunately something that touches far too many people and that being the case it’s only right for us to give something back.”

Joy McDonald, day hospice services manager at St Benedict’s, said many people had written afternoon tea on their bucket lists because they were keen to give a treat to their carers.

“Many of the patients, when we asked them what they wanted for themselves, said they wanted something for their carers to enjoy so they could say thank you. Lots of people wrote afternoon tea and it’s been a lovely experience for them to come here.

“As a team we hope from the bucket list discussions that it will give patients the confidence to have ‘the big conversation’.”

Catrina Flynn, fundraising manager at the hospice said: “Dying Matters Week was about people having ‘the big conversation’ about death such as what they wanted to put on their bucket lists and what other preparations they might want to make.

“Although some people wanted to go abroad for a holiday or meet a celebrity – and we couldn’t quite stretch to that – many said they wanted to do something simple and spend quality time with their loved ones. The afternoon tea at Seaham Hall was perfect and we’re grateful to the hotel for their hospitality. It really enhanced the patients’ experience being in such beautiful surroundings.”