Lowestoft hospice charity centre celebrates six months of helping people in Great Yarmouth and Waveney

A charity that helps seriously ill people in Waveney and Great Yarmouth has marked the sixth-month anniversary of its palliative day care centre in Lowestoft.

As part of an extension of its services across Waveney and Yarmouth due to a lack of hospice facilities, the St Elizabeth Hospice opened a day centre in London Road South in January to offer medical evaluations, therapy and a sympathetic ear to people aged over 18 with 'progressive illnesses'.

Eight people are currently using the day service which runs every Tuesday in the Crossroads Care Day Centre.

Yesterday an open day was held at the centre to show how patients are being helped and what services are available.

The day centre has two nurses, two care assistants, a counsellor and a nurse consultant on certain days.

There are also four volunteers.

As well as medical checks, patients can take part in art and music therapy groups and memory projects and they can share their own experiences of living with a serious illness such as cancer or a neurological disorder.

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Richard Brighton, 28, from Church Road, Gorleston, and who worked at Yarmouth racecourse, was diagnosed with bowel cancer last June and is in remission after chemotherapy.

He said: 'I have been getting a lot of support from it. I did not know much about hospices until I heard of St Elizabeth.'

In April, as part of St Elizabeth Hospice's �2.2m health expansion plans for the region, three beds and palliative day care services were set up at All Hallows Hospital, in Ditchingham.

Laurence Hetherington, 67, from Lowestoft, has cancer and used one of the beds at the hospital. He was then referred to the day centre where his progress can be carefully monitored.

Mr Hetherington, who used to be a delivery driver, said: 'I can not praise the staff of the hospice highly enough. They have helped me out enormously. Coming here will let me meet other people with similar problems.'

The charity is also offering day services at Beccles Hospital and at All Hallows Hospital. It also has 18 beds in Ipswich.

Jeramy Philpott, consultant nurse with the charity, said the hospice services were needed for Waveney and Yarmouth as they were both deprived areas and also had a growing number of elderly people.

He said: 'We have now got the variety of services we want to provide to the area.'

For information on the services provided by St Elizabeth Hospice or to volunteer, especially as a driver, call 01493 690990 or visit wwww.stelizabethhospice.org.uk