A WIDOWER has spoken out about the huge difference having the chance to comfort his wife during the final weeks of her life made for the couple.

Mike and Sue Summersgill, of Winsford, are one of numerous couples to have benefitted from St Luke's Hospice's 'cuddle bed'.

Fifty-two-year-old Sue was admitted to the hospice inpatient unit earlier this year for palliative care before her sad death on October 31.

Feeling anxious after her first night at the Winsford-based hospice, Sue was able to spend time with her husband when staff moved her to the cuddle bed.

The cuddle bed brings comfort to patients and their loved ones when they need it most; and now doctors and nurses at the hospice are appealing for help to buy another.

Mike, who is the manager of Lakeside Caravan Park in Winsford, spoke of his experience, describing it a brief chance to escape the reality of the situation.

Speaking at the time, he said: "The nurses realised how anxious Sue was after the first night and asked me if I wanted to stay.

Northwich Guardian: Nurse Nicky Thompson, Nurse Andrew Marr and Sister Karen Jackson with a cuddle bed on St Luke’s Hospice's inpatient unitNurse Nicky Thompson, Nurse Andrew Marr and Sister Karen Jackson with a cuddle bed on St Luke’s Hospice's inpatient unit (Image: St Luke's Hospice)

"They mentioned that they had a cuddle bed and they brought it into Sue’s room and dressed it up for us with a little heart towel sculpture and chocolates on the pillows. That was amazing, a really nice touch.

"The cuddle bed has been a big relief for her because she knows I’m there and she can just reach out and touch me, and we can have a cuddle.

"It’s been so important to us to spend that time together while we’re going through this.

"The cuddle bed means that for moments in time, however brief, we can revert to our normal reality of being together – watching TV of an evening, lying in bed, having a brew.

"It’s a brief escape from the current reality of what’s happening and the cuddle bed allows that closeness and the feeling that, for a few precious moments, nothing is wrong."

Northwich Guardian: Mike and Sue during happier timesMike and Sue during happier times (Image: St Luke's Hospice)

A cuddle bed, which costs around £11,400, takes up the same space as a normal medical bed but it can be widened to make a double bed when required, allowing patients and their loved ones to lie together just like they would at home.

Staff at the hospice have compiled a Christmas wish List of items which they would like to purchase ranging from rise and recline chairs, wheelchairs and standing aids, as well as the specialist bed.

Dr Rebecca Mitchelson said: "A cosy bed, a comfortable chair or a cuddle are simple things which we so often take for granted but which can make the world of difference to the patients and families we care for.

"At St Luke’s we pride ourselves not only on providing the best medical care and support, but creating a warm, homely and comforting place for loved ones to spend precious days together.

"A safe haven from the storms they are facing, where they can create memories to treasure. Please support our appeal this Christmas if you are able – your kindness today will mean the world to the families we meet tomorrow."

For more details about the equipment the Hospice wishes to buy as part of its Christmas Comfort Appeal, and to make a donation, please visit slhospice.co.uk/comfort.