Year 12 Student Continues Traditions At The Mary Potter Foundation

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Year 12 Student Continues Traditions At The Mary Potter Foundation

Caring for people at the end of their lives is an honour and passion for the workers and volunteers at the Mary Potter Foundation. Pembroke School year 12 student, Luisa Wigg, not only shares these values, but dedicated her time to ensure traditions of the foundation are continued.

The Mary Potter Foundation was founded 30 years ago to help raise funds to deliver a high level of care at the Mary Potter Hospice. The foundation also manages many projects - one of which is theFly away Birds for Hospice’ initiative.  The ‘Fly Away Birds’ project are fabric birds sewn by volunteers and hung on patient doors to let staff and volunteers know that the family would like some privacy.

The original concept behind the birds came from a Clinical Manager who disliked the signs on the outside of patient doors to tell staff that privacy would be appreciated. With this in mind, a craft group introduced the idea of sewn birds to hang on patient’s doors. The group then created the pattern and offered a small supply to the hospice.

Since then, the foundation designed a new pattern and set about finding people to sew them. The foundation have had a few people make them over years with birds coming all the way from the Northern Territory and now from South Australia by Luisa.  As part of Luisa’s school project, the young seamstress stitched together multiple birds for patients at the hospice after the realisation there were less birds than rooms.

Lorna Riddle, community champion at foundation, said she is delighted with the addition of Luisa’s birds.

“The birds are very special and we are so pleased with the birds that Luisa created. They are colourful and well sewn and for someone so young to choose to support people who are dying is a credit to her and her family.”

“The reaction (of Luisa’s birds) has been great. The colours Luisa used are very appealing and really stand out on the door which is important. I expect some will ‘fly away’ very soon,” she said.

When asked about what the birds mean to the patients, Lorna expressed the symbolic nature of the birds and how important it is for the patients to feel more at home in the hospice.

“Luisa’s handmade birds visually capture the message to not enter a room until the bird flies away. Words or an explanation are not required so it is welcomed by the family as it gives them control over who comes in and out of their room,” she said.

Over 350 people turn to the Mary Potter Hospice each year for their end-of-life care, and also support more than 1,000 family members. Sometimes the birds fly away permanently and new birds need to be welcomed.

Download the pattern to create your own birds for the patients at the Hospice. If you would like to get involved and help the foundation further, contact Lorna on