Gareth and Keith join the elite band of Pendleside ambassadors

The widower of a patient who raised thousands of pounds for Pendleside from her hospice bed before she passed away is leading the bid to widen the scope of people to join its elite band of ambassadors.

At the moment the hospice ambassadors are four celebrities – BBC Radio 1 DJ and star of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Jordan North; Burnley FC striker Jay Rodriguez; singer-entertainer Josh Hindle; and radio broadcaster Albia Begum.

And now it is looking for more people in the community with a strong commitment to spread the word about the work of the hospice and to help increase the raising of funds.

And leading the campaign is Gareth Sharples whose wife Lindsay, 43, raised £13,000 for the NHS and Pendleside after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Even when her legs couldn’t carry her own weight she still took part in a sponsored swim shortly before she died.

Gareth, who looks after his two children Zara, 13, and Zach, 10, has become an ambassador to help repay the care and kindness his family has received in recent years from Pendleside.  Initially, they received counselling following the death of Lindsay’s sister and then Lindsay and Gareth, respectively, received palliative care and counselling.

He said: “The care they showed for Lindsay, myself and the children when Lindsay was ill was unbelievable. In her last few weeks the staff did everything possible to make her life as comfortable as possible.”

Gareth, who worked in sales in the construction industry before Lindsay’s illness, wanted to repay the debt he felt the family owedto Pendleside and realised his skills would be appropriate as an ambassador.

He said: “I am used to meeting and addressing groups of people and hope I can use my experience to explain what Pendleside is all about and raise funds to support it.”

Gareth is being joined as a new ambassador by Keith Jackson. A long-standing stalwart of Pendleside whose fundraising began in the hospice’s early days in the 1980s when it was based at Marsden Hospital.

Keith, 68, a director at Whitford Caravan Centre, Burnley, said: “Thosedays, I helped run the family coal delivery business and I used to ask for customers to donate 20p a bag to the hospice.”

Keith has had first-hand experience of hospice services when he was touched by the care his brother received.

Since then, as a member of the Burnley and Pendle District Freemasons, Keith has been involved in many fundraising efforts, for the last few years working tirelessly each weekend over the summer months taking the car raffle car out to various venues across Burnley and Pendle.

He said: “Pendleside is in my blood and I would do anything for them. During Covid I have worked Thursday and Fridays in whatever capacity they have needed me. That has usually been as a member of the maintenance team.

“As an ambassador I will do everything I can to promote the wonderful place it is.”

Pendleside’s chief executive Helen McVey said: “We are delighted to have Keith and Gareth on board supporting the Hospice. We would like to widen the scope of who we appoint as ambassadors. We would like people from the various communities to come forward and see if their skills are the skills required to fill the role.

“We are looking for people who are as passionate as we are in telling about the valuable work that Pendleside does providing the care to the people of Burnley and Pendle.”

The kind of work an ambassador undertakes are: delivering presentations about the hospice’s services to community groups; attending cheque presentations and giving thank-you speeches and explaining what kind of things the money will be spent on; helping on information stands in local stores and community centres; helping on fundraising stalls; help hosting events at the hospice and giving visitors guided tours of the building.