Happy Birthday : Alice BurgessPublished on: 01/04/2021
Sister, Alice Burgess, is a big part of hospice life. She’s been employing her considerable nursing skills in our Inpatients Ward since coronavirus disrupted all of our ‘normal’ lives at the hospice.
Alice is also a huge Paddington Bear fan (more on that further down).
On 1st April it’s her birthday. Unfortunately she’s going to have to wait a little bit longer for the big party because even the one ending in ‘0’, last year, was a ‘lockdown (although I’m told she was suitably ‘spoiled’ by husband Colin and her close family).
Alice is always happy to help and give her sage advice. Everyone across the hospice, holds her in the highest regard. And rightly so. She’s been nursing for over 40 years now (I know! She doesn’t look old enough), and has learnt more than a thing or two about specialist hospice care during that time, having been involved in the care of, literally, thousands of people.
Wirral born and bred to mum, Pat, a community education officer and ex-army dad, David, public service runs through Alice’s veins. She attended the Rock Ferry Convent Grammar School, and became interested in nursing when she was in ‘The Guides’ which gave her the foundation to start following her heart.
Maybe Wirral Hospice was always Alice’s destiny. She began as ‘cadet nurse’, in around 1977, in the old Peter Pan children’s ward at Clatterbridge Hospital in the building which is nowadays home to the fundraising and finance teams at Wirral Hospice St John’s.
Working in oncology at Clatterbridge towards becoming a fully qualified nurse she then gained further all-round experience of nursing care as her vocation developed. Whether assisting in operating theatres, in outpatients, in all kinds of medical wards including the kidney transplant unit at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, Alice’s professional knowledge was growing.
She joined Wirral Hospice St John’s in 2006 as a staff nurse on the inpatients ward and after some time she was seconded to work alongside Macmillan Nurses in our Wirral community.
That rounded experience meant that Alice could help to establish our Hospice at Home service too, bedding in those community services alongside the specialist patient care and family support services we were already well-known for.
Today, as a Band 6 Sister, Alice is a highly qualified and experienced Nurse.
I asked Alice to sum up the people she has worked with across the hospice and, maybe not surprisingly to those who have been supported by our healthcare teams, she says,
“The people are what really make the hospice They’re all kind, thoughtful, conscientious, loyal, hard-working and prepared to go the extra mile for their patients and their carers.”
In her ‘real life’ Alice is married to the aforementioned Colin, a design engineer who works at global electrical appliance manufacturer Glen Dimplex. They met at the Bridge Inn at Port Sunlight in the late 70’s and got married at St Barnabas Church in Bromborough in 1983.
They have two grown up children, Nicholas and Sarah, and it’s clear Alice dotes on both of them.
Maybe even more so since Nicholas was involved in an accident in 2015 after which he was sedated and ventilated for a while. Happily, since recovering, Nicholas has been travelling, taking in India, Vietnam and Bali and is now backpacking in Australia. (Alice completely supports that desire to see the world but it’s obvious she misses him).
Sarah, on the other hand, having satisfied her own travelling bug as a former holiday rep, is much closer to home and in more ways than one. She’s a fundraising officer at the hospice! Alice used to bring her to events where she saw first-hand how people rally round for the hospice and now she herself is part of the team which harnesses that support. Perfect!
Alice also went through a worrying time with a personal condition, not long after Nicholas’s recovery. A growth behind her left eye (medically speaking an ocular schwannoma) began to affect her sight. She underwent delicate eye surgery which thankfully was a complete success.
Typical of Alice she was just thinking of others,
“Poor Colin, Nicholas and Sarah, they were more distressed than I was!”
When she gets the opportunity, and for her own relaxation, Alice is a practised seamstress. She runs up all kinds of clothing and fabrics, curtains, cushions and even bridesmaids dresses. Teddy bears are her speciality and she has been asked on occasion to create ‘memory bears or cushions’, using a passed loved one’s favourite shirt or dress. It really is lovely work. She’s created some brilliant ‘cuddle bears‘ for young children who may be visiting the hospice to see parents and grandparents.
Unbeknownst to Alice, I asked some people around the hospice who have worked with her to each give me one word that describes her,
“Caring, creative, kind, amazing, considerate, supportive, understanding and lovely” are a few, and a couple of them insist on calling her ‘our Alice’. “She’s our Alice and we love her!”
Finally, everyone knows about Alice’s fascination for Paddington Bear, she told me a little bit about why,
“I love the books and the films and I suppose I just love, him! He’s magic, I think because he was a character from when I was young and my nan used to read me the stories it stuck with me. I’ve got a little collection of memorabilia bears including a two feet high Paddington which Colin bought me about twenty years ago.”
It’s funny because, according to Michael Bond’s books, when Paddington arrived in England he had a note around his neck which simply said ‘Please look after this bear. Thank You’.
Alice really likes looking after people too and we can’t wait until next time we’re all allowed to have a nice cuppa and a marmalade sandwich with her.
Happy Birthday Alice!
Thousands of Wirral people will have been helped through our specialist hospice care.
If you’d like to know more about our services for our patients and their families please visit www.wirralhospice.org/patientsandprofessionals