Pendle poet Joan Birtwistle has become a social media sensation after wowing Pendleside Hospice staff with her rhymes

Clinical staff at Pendleside didn’t realise they were about to care for a star in the making when 88-year-old Joan Birtwistle arrived for symptom control.

By John Deehan
Tuesday, 26th July 2022, 3:55 pm

Because Joan, who stands at only 4ft. 6in. tall, has proved to be a giant when it comes to writing poetry – and a video of her reciting her latest prose ‘Memories,’ which she penned in the hospice, has won a huge audience on social media.

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Joan, who suffers bowel cancer, first attended day sessions with the palliative care group and enjoyed it so much she recommended it to a close friend who also now attends.

Patient and poet Joan Birtwistle and Pendleside Hospice's health and social care apprentice Adrianne Laird who Joan calls her "little granddaughter"

Staff then thought she would benefit by being admitted to the inpatients’ department for symptom control.

She said: “It’s like being in a private hospital or even a five-star hotel. The staff are so wonderful and the care I have received has made me feel so well. I can’t describe the difference. Being in here has cheered me up so much.

“I just hope everyone digs deep and supports the hospice because without it I don’t know where people like me would be.”

One particular member of staff Joan praised was health and social care apprentice Adrianne Laird who she said had become her “little granddaughter".

Joan attends Bethlehem Independent Methodist Church, Colne, and until it closed the Providence Methodist Church. It was while attending meetings at the church she started writing Lancashire dialect poems.

She said: “I’ve written about 20 now and I think my best one is ‘Ode To A Tater Pie’.”

Her late husband Len was manager at the Meadowbank Training Centre for people with learning difficulties in Burnley. Joan herself worked with people with learning difficulties at the Ecyroyd Centre in Colne.

Symptom management is an essential aspect of palliative and end-of-life care. It is care given to help relieve the symptoms of a disease, such as cancer, and the side effects caused by treatment of the disease.

The intention is to help a person feel more comfortable, but it does not treat or cure the disease.

The inpatient unit provides assessment and symptom control, rehabilitation and end-of-life care for people 17 years of age or over, with a life-limiting illness.