Every week, someone will win £1,000 on the Saint Francis Hospice Lottery. The rollover prize can reach a whopping £25,000. Eighty-eight-year-old Laura Everett was recently one of the lucky ones.
Laura been supporting the Saint Francis Hospice since 1983, before it even opened to the public. While the Hospice’s founders, Dr Dorothy Rule, Peter Smith, and Joan Matthews were scratching around for initial funding, they asked the big retail stores in the local area to chip in.
Laura was working at the now-defunct Littlewoods in Ilford. She and her colleagues’ collection pots, quizzes, and murder mystery nights helped ensure that the dream to open a hospice in Havering-atte-Bower became a reality. A sponsored pub crawl raised over £850.
‘That was an awful lot of money back then,’ Laura reminisced. When the Hospice did open in 1985, the team invited Laura and her teammates to see what had become of their hard work. ‘We were terrified,’ she remembered. ‘We had no idea of the concept of a hospice. Yet, I’ve never been so pleased about doing anything in my entire life.’
Little did Laura know that she would need the Hospice’s help 30 years later when her son, Raymond, was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. Laura had to talk Raymond into going to the Hospice for day care.
‘My son was sceptical about a lot of things,’ she fondly recalled. ‘Once Raymond got there, he saw how wonderful the Hospice was and came round to the idea of spending his final moments there.’ Raymond told his mum that he didn’t want to die at home, but at Saint Francis Hospice instead. He was just 59 years old.
‘You don’t expect to see your kids go before you,’ Laura revealed. ‘Raymond was unconscious by the time he arrived at Hospice, but I know in his heart of hearts that he would have appreciated everything the nurses did for him. I know I did.’
Laura has raised tens of thousands for Saint Francis since records began, and that’s excluding all the money she collected in the early ’80s. As for Laura’s plan on how to spend her Lottery win: she needs a new vacuum cleaner.
‘Once I’ve bought that and a couple of other bits, then I’ll be sure to send the some of my winnings back to the Hospice to keep Raymond’s memory alive,’ she said.
If you’d like to be in with a chance of hitting the £25,000 jackpot while doing something incredible for people just like Raymond, you can sign up for the Saint Francis Lottery here – for less than £5 a month.