Mary’s birthday gift to hospice

Mary Dees has asked for donations for her 80th birthday in aid of the Hartlepool and District Hospice in memory of her late husband Derrick. Picture by FRANK REID

Mary Dees has asked for donations for her 80th birthday in aid of the Hartlepool and District Hospice in memory of her late husband Derrick. Picture by FRANK REID

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A SELFLESS grandmother has raised hundreds of pounds for a cash-strapped hospice in memory of her husband after she shunned presents for a landmark birthday.

Mary Lees, who celebrates her 80th birthday tomorrow, appealed for friends and relatives to make a donation to Hartlepool and District Hospice instead of spending money on gifts for her.

She wanted to say thank you for the care provided to her late husband Richard who passed away at the hospice last year after a battle with lung cancer.

So far, Mary’s thoughtful act has raised £470 and looks set to reach the £500 mark soon.

Mary, from the Jesmond Road area of Hartlepool, said: “My birthday was coming up and I thought I don’t want any presents, but I would like it if people would make a donation to Hartlepool Hospice in memory of my husband.

“I was very impressed by the standard of care they gave him and couldn’t thank them enough.

“I know they are in dire straights for money so I thought it could help a bit.”

The support comes after the hospice revealed it may have to make cuts to bed and staff numbers as charity donations dropped due to the impact of the economic downturn.

Mary’s appeal was swelled when friends and family gave generously at her 80th birthday party held at Hartlepool Catholic Club, in Marlow Road, on Tuesday night.

More than 130 friends and relatives helped mark the occasion, including dozens of friends from a weekly dance Mary goes to at Wynyard Community Centre.

Richard, a former manager of Hartlepool Post Office, lost his battle with cancer last August at the age of 82.

The couple had five children, Gordon, 57, Richard, 55, Christopher, 46 and daughters Janette Wharam, 52, and Kathryn Taylor, 44.

Mary, a retired photographic developer and auxiliary nurse, also has 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Greg Hildreth, events and community facilitator at Hartlepool and District Hospice, said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you on behalf of everyone at the hospice to Mrs Lees and her friends and family for this incredibly kind and selfless gesture.

“It’s also a great tribute to the memory of Mrs Lees’ husband, Richard.

“The money raised will be used to continue to help families like these in our community.

“We’d also like to wish Mrs Lees all the very best for her birthday.”