Bury colleague crafts conversational plaques for Dying Matters

16 May 2023

Fairfield General Hospital estates building manager Steve Johnson – a talented craftsman in his spare time – has created plaques encouraging people to talk about dying and grief.

Timed to coincide with Dying Matters Awareness Week, which ran from 8-14 May, Steve laser engraved slate roof tiles with the campaign’s official logo and message, ‘Let’s talk about it’.

The two plaques are situated alongside two newly replaced benches in public areas outside Nightingale Ward (29 and 30), where colleagues, patients and visitors can sit and chat.

Steve said: “It was after a conversation with the Macmillan team that I decided to do a little messing about at home with my laser engraver. I didn’t tell them but left the signs in their office along with six coasters I made in the same design, as a little thank you to the staff.

“It’s my way of helping where I can and to hopefully make life a bit more bearable for patients, families and colleagues who may need someone to talk to.”

The Macmillan team were delighted to receive such a thoughtful way of prompting people to talk more about what can be a difficult topic.

Macmillan specialist palliative care nurse Sandra Smith said: “We really appreciate Steve’s generosity and feel this will make a difference to colleagues and visitors alike, especially as they’re in time for this Dying Matters Awareness Week.

“This year’s theme was ‘Dying Matters at Work’, so we're encouraging colleagues and volunteers to think about how they support each other when people return from bereavement leave, there is a colleague death or when a colleague is caring for someone with a serious illness.”

Steve’s slate plaques will stay place long after the awareness week so that they’ll be there as a reminder to anyone taking time to sit on the garden benches.

Laser engraving is a hobby for Steve, alongside bespoke wood-turned gifts that he also makes as an outlet for his creativity, as well as to benefit hospital teams and their patients. 

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