Doncaster author Mel Hewitt has been back to her former St John’s workplace to donate signed print and audio copies of her debut novel.
It was a poignant return for Mel, who in 2015 became St John’s first fundraiser, some 17 years after her father died there after losing his battle with cancer.
Mel had reflected on her time at St John’s as she typed Looking for The Durrells. Although set on Corfu, the book opens with lead character Penny saying goodbye to her father in a Yorkshire hospice.
Mel said: “My relationship with St John’s goes back to 1986, when I was editor of the Doncaster Advertiser and the late and remarkable Jeannette Fish rang me up and asked if I’d attend a meeting to talk about the possibility of raising over £1m to build a hospice for the people of Doncaster.
“I was only 25 at the time and had little understanding of what a hospice was. Jeanette and the Cancer Detection Trust changed that for me – and thousands of others. The Advertiser got on board with supporting the charity straight away and the people of Doncaster rose to the challenge of fund raising magnificently.
“I didn’t know then how important it would be to me, my family and friends. When dad died there, the care, love, skill and compassion of the hospice team is something I shall never forget. It made the unbearable as bearable as it could be.
“The book and audio CDs for the staff, volunteers and patients are a small way of acknowledging the ongoing debt I can never repay for their care of so many of my loved ones and the work that makes a difference every day.”
Since Looking for The Durrells was launched, Mel has been busy signing copies far and wide and was invited to speak at the Corfu Literary Festival last year. She’s currently working on her follow-up, which will also be set on Corfu.
Sister Hanna Bullock, from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH), met Mel to thank her for her generous donation.