THELMA TURNER-HILL: What a response!

Thelma Turner-Hill in her Southsea home                 Picture: Malcolm Wells
Thelma Turner-Hill in her Southsea home Picture: Malcolm Wells
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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Before Christmas The News helped me by running an appeal.

I was appealing for gifts for people in Portsmouth with severe mental illness, aged between 18 and 60.

Thelma Turner-Hill and members of the Fellowship, a mental health carers' support group

Thelma Turner-Hill and members of the Fellowship, a mental health carers' support group

My request was for those who are alone in the world without family, friends or carers, living in the community or in The Orchards, St James psychiatric hospital.

Well, the response was amazing. A box was put under the Christmas tree at The Carers Centre, in Orchard Road, Southsea, and was filled many times.

Charlotte, who works on reception, took great delight in telephoning me to tell me to come and collect on many days.

The kind managers at the Co-ops in Winter Road and Eastney Road invited me to their stores to take away many delights.

Gemma, the community champion at Tesco, in Fratton, gave me a huge bag of goodies.

I had monetary donations from The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth’s fund while many carers and friends also donated – it was wonderful!

I made up two Christmas tables at The Orchards – one in the Maple Unit, which is the intensive care section where people are quite ill, and in Hawthorn Unit where these dear people are recovering.

The tables were laden with choccies, biscuits, flowers and a Christmas puzzle.

I left bags of gifts for Christmas morning for those who are alone.

I also left bags of toiletries, socks and underwear for those who in future months arrive as a patient, with nothing.

There were wonderful gifts for those in the community. The community psychiatric nurse collected them from my sun lounge (which resembled Santa’s grotto) to distribute. There were 70 bags in all.

But there were many gifts left over which I took to Hope House (formerly Mill House) which is a hostel for the homeless.

On Christmas Day I called into the Wellbeing Centre in Palmerston Road which is run by Solent Mind.

They held sessions for the mentally unwell, they were open for people to go in and have some Christmas cheer.

I popped in with some biscuits and choccies and stopped for coffee with my friend Ingrid who works there. After all my running around I de-stressed for an hour listening to the lovely harp player who was there.

I would like to thank all for their kind donations and help.

Twelve years ago the Christmas event started in a modest way, with little bags of goodies that I could afford.

It has grown and I am glad to say I had to buy the largest gifts bags sold and they were filled with delightful presents.

I love doing this, I have a son with mental health problems and without me he would be alone in the world.

I would be glad if someone showed him a little kindness at this time of the year, when families and friends meet and rejoice. These people could be a member of your family or a friend.

Please be kind to those who suffer with mental ill-health.

Again, thanks to all.