Megan and Leah Hastings were special guest speakers at Lewis-Manning Hospice’s third annual Celebrating Women Lunch which raised nearly £5,000 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The sisters, aged 9 and 10 respectively, gave a short talk before the lunch about their Mum, Nikki, who died from cancer last year aged 40. Nikki was a patient at Lewis-Manning and chronicled her life following a terminal cancer diagnosis in the book A Life Turned Upside Down, which was published soon after her death. In the book Nikki talked about how Lewis-Manning helped her come out of a deep depression and helped give her the confidence to continue with the book. The girls also shared their own experiences about how they have been promoting the book at recent Race for Life events and in the local media before signing copies after the lunch.
This year’s sold-out event was held at The Sandbanks Hotel in Poole and hosted by the hospice’s celebrity patron, Debra Stephenson, who got to know Nikki and her family after they met at the inaugural Celebrating Women’s Lunch in 2013, where Nikki was Guest Speaker.
Debra, best known for her television roles on Bad Girls, Coronation Street and The Impressions Show, entertained the women with a selection of her infamous impressions. She said, “Seeing Leah and Megan talking about their Mum in such an uplifting and confident way really brought home how positive Nikki’s experience at Lewis-Manning was.
“Nikki’s infectious optimistic attitude touched everyone who came into contact with her, including myself, and the fact that her family have continued to remain so close to Lewis-Manning is testament to the incredible work the hospice does and the care that they not only provide for those who are ill but also for their families.”
Debra added, “The ladies lunch is an unforgettable occasion. I felt privileged to be among such inspirational and warm-hearted people, entertaining and enlightening. It has become a very special occasion for the diary.”
Live entertainment during the afternoon was provided by Richard Sidaway, a West End performer who has appeared in Phantom of the Opera and all the money raised will go towards helping Lewis-Manning provide free care and support to 700 local people each year with cancer and other life-limiting illnesses, including Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease. The hospice is currently phasing the opening of its bedrooms and has recently announced a recruitment drive as it looks to move to 24/7 care next year.