Lorraine, Lee and Janice's Story
In 2010, Lee’s mum Janice Lewis was diagnosed with cancer. The hospital became the family's life for the next 4 years. During this time life threw many more challenges. In 2012 Lee's Nan passed away, then 6 months later Lee’s Dad, Chris Lewis, passed away suddenly following a heart attack.
In February 2013, Lee and Lorraine's new build home completely flooded due to builders fitting an incorrect pipe. They lost everything and had to live in a hotel for 3 months whilst their house was rebuilt. They were, as they would describe, at “rock bottom". They never fully appreciated the realities of cancer and supporting the family member because Chris had shielded them from that. However, when the 2 of them took over his role, they learnt how tough it was financially, physically and emotionally. This was not only for the person with cancer but their families. Losing everything put life into perspective and so they thought about what they could do to make life a little bit easier for people in hospital and to try and make people happy.
Initially, Lorraine decided she wanted to raise money to fund the 11 TV and DVD players for the private rooms on Talbot Butler ward in Northampton General Hospital, where Lee's mum had been in and out of for 4 years. It costs £10 a day or £35 a week to watch TV, which people would pay but no one could really afford. So, over a 2 year period, Lorraine did Tough Mudder and Rat Race Dirty Weekend (20 miles, 200 obstacles), something completely out of her comfort zone. She had to do it, as she knew it would make a difference. Plus, they were getting fed up of bringing their own 32 inch TV in and out of the hospital. Lorraine achieved that and then, along with Lee, thought about what they could do on a long term basis.
When Lorraine and Lee would visit Janice in hospital they would bring in items for patients or run down to the shop for patients to grab items they needed like magazines, toiletries etc. That was when they came up with the idea of giving free gift packs to people in hospital, so they could have items they loved without having to worry about paying for it. It would mean they could spend time with people, so they didn't feel lonely, and could take people's mind off thinking about cancer. So, they decided to set up a charity that did just that. In April 2016 The Lewis Foundation was born. The Foundation started off by giving 80 gift packs a month (with a choice of 8 gifts) to the Talbot Butler Ward in Northampton General Hospital. However, the demand for the gift packs grew. Next, they covered day patients in Northampton General Hospital. The work of the Foundation grew further and they now supply gift packs to BMI Three Shires, Northampton, Kettering General Hospital and Milton Keynes University Hospital Trust. They provide 800 free gift packs a month to cancer patients and have a selection of 27 gift packs available.
Numbers of Gift Packs Distributed
2016 - 657
2017 - 3325
2018 -10,080 (estimated end of year total)
"I am a haematology/oncology patient who regularly attends Kettering General Hospital.
Last Friday I was there on the Centenary Wing and was very pleased to receive a white bag,
which contained "A Drawing Pack" - and various goodies - I was so thrilled with this,
it really was great, and it means such a lot.
I just wanted to say thank you, and to express my appreciation as well as to encourage your charity and good work."
"I had a late appointment in oncology and feeling very unwell, after tests, I was admitted to the ward. I had nothing with me, but thanks to your charity I was handed an overnight bag with the vital things in it. Just to be able to clean my teeth, I was so grateful. It is a 30 mile round trip for my family to bring things in, so the overnight bag was my life saviour."
"We just wanted to say that she was so grateful to the support you showed for me and her during the summer. How much easier the gift packs made our lives whenever she was admitted. Also, the magazine gift pack had a sample of a perfume in we both loved - she managed to get me it for Xmas and so, forever, when I smell that I will remember & think of my mum".
"The brilliant thing about our charity is it has brought our community together. People are getting involved in whatever way they can to help us whether it is fundraising, holding collection drives for items or gift packing. The Lewis Foundation relies on good will, which is people helping in whatever way they can. It is the only way it works as we all work full time and are giving up our spare time to do this. Patients who have received the packs and their families are now involved with the charity and are helping The Lewis Foundation to help others. They have said helping us gives them something to do at a time they no longer work and they want to cheer up others who are experiencing what they have. It has helped with patient care in hospitals, at a time when the NHS is stretched." Lorraine Lewis
Lee's mum is now in remission. Through the toughest 4 years of their lives, they identified a need and created something positive.
For more information on The Lewis Foundation visit https://www.thelewisfoundation.co.uk/
Many thanks to Lorraine Lewis for sharing The Lewis Foundation's wonderful story with us and becoming our very first "Great Cause Pause for Applause". A very deserving charity!
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