Changing patients’ lives with music at Crawley hospice

St Catherine's Hospice volunteer Marcel Lascaut, from Crawley, with St Catherine's therapists, Tiz Collins (standing) and Kirstie Burrows - picture submitted
St Catherine's Hospice volunteer Marcel Lascaut, from Crawley, with St Catherine's therapists, Tiz Collins (standing) and Kirstie Burrows - picture submitted

A Crawley man, has explained what has kept him volunteering for St Catherine’s Hospice well into his nineties.

Since 2009 Marcel Lascaut has played the piano at the town’s hospice for visitors, staff and patients there.

The 95-year-old said: “I started playing the piano at St Catherine’s by chance, but I stayed because I could see how incredible this place is.

“I’ve visited St Catherine’s every week for four years - each time I come here I can see the place and the people working their magic, showing so much strength and kindness.

“When I pop into day hospice there will be about ten or 15 people there who just need a bit of help and support and St Catherine’s are giving it to them.

“I’ll always remember one time when I was sitting, playing the piano like I normally do, when a woman came up to me.

“She told me her daughter was outside, 28 years old, scared to come in.

“Her daughter had a couple weeks left to live but she’d never been in a hospice before.

“The woman said to me, ‘If you play Gershwin she will be able to come in. Can you play Gershwin?’ I’ve never been so glad that I could play Gershwin in all my life.”

Last month he was admitted to the hospice as a patient forcing him to refrain from entertaining patients and staff.

He said: “I had no fear of coming here, it was my choice and when I made it I thought to myself ‘this is something that I’ve done right’.

“But it was still a sad day when I left my home. I have a lot of memories of that house, I’ve lived there since the 1960s.

“I looked at my car, still in the drive, out of the back window of the ambulance and knew that I wouldn’t be going back.

“When I got to the hospice there was a big bunch of flowers and a whole load of ‘thank you’ balloons waiting for me in my room.

“My music has meant I’ve met a lot of lovely people and St Catherine’s let them visit me any time of the day so that has really helped.

“You worry about what’s going to happen but this place has helped me get everything in order and do right by my family.

“With St Catherine’s help I’ve had the time and energy to write down my last wishes and make sure my house will go to my son.

“I’ve had blessings from the priest and I was even able to play the piano a few more times.

“I can’t praise St Catherine’s enough, I say it to everyone I can and I’m glad that I could come here.

“I thought I’d finish with a bright bit of news – I’ve just found out that my grandson has had another child, we’ve put his picture up in my room.”