THE widow of legendary Welsh goalkeeper Dai Davies has made a moving appeal for people to support the hospice that cared for him in his final months.
Former Wales international Dai died in February at the age of 72 from pancreatic cancer at his home in Llangollen, having received palliative care and rehabilitation at Nightingale House in Wrexham.
His wife Judy has voiced her gratitude for the help the hospice gave to Dai and is backing its fundraising Build a Balloon campaign, praising supporters and corporate sponsors including Ifor Williams Trailers.
Fundraising activities for Nightingale House that provides specialist palliative care services for people with life-limiting illnesses have been badly hit by the pandemic.
The annual running costs of the hospice are £3.4 million and 80 per cent of it has come from fundraising.
Judy said: “I so appreciate the support Ifor Williams Trailers and all the other wonderful sponsors give the hospice.
“The hospice is largely reliant on fundraising and donations to carry out its work
and I have seen first-hand whilst Dai was supported at Nightingale House exactly how important this work is.
“It would be wonderful if people could put their support behind the Build A Balloon appeal as this week is the final week of the campaign before the balloon goes into production in Spain.”
Judy saw at first hand the quality of the care at Nightingale House when they cared for former Everton and Wrexham goalkeeper Dai before he was transferred from the Royal Liverpool Hospital last year after spending several weeks in hospital and without any visitors due to the pandemic.
Dai’s transfer to the hospice enabled him to be reunited with his family and receive the physiotherapy that saw him learn to walk again.
Judy said: “Dai’s days at Nightingale House and the wonderful care and support we both received when he was a Day Patient too, totally enhanced his quality of life during his final months.
“I also feel that it actually helped to prolong the precious time we had left together and I will be forever grateful to everyone at Nightingale House for the care he received.
“Nothing was too much trouble for example, when he arrived somebody had kindly put a small vase of fresh sweet peas from the hospice garden on his bedside table.
“Dai had been in hospital for several weeks, so coming to Nightingale House felt like a five-star hotel for him.
“It was wonderful to have him home eventually and that experience was made possible by the care and attention given to us all as a family by the team at Nightingale House.”
During his distinguished career, Dai was capped 52 times by Wales and kept goal for clubs including Swansea City, Tranmere Rovers and Bangor City.
After playing top-fight football with Everton, he joined Wrexham in 1977 and helped them win the Third Division title in 1977-78.
He went on to work as a football pundit and was also a popular figure away from the sport, with the proud Welsh speaker running a natural health clinic in Llangollen and being admitted to the prestigious Gorsedd of the Bards at the National Eisteddfod in 1978.
Judy and Dai were together for over 25 years. She hopes her experience will make people appreciate exactly what Nightingale House Hospice has to offer.
“Dai so appreciated the support he received and he would want anybody in a similar situation to reach out to the Nightingale House team.
“People often seem to think that a hospice is just where someone goes at the very end of their life, but it is so much more than that.
“The hospice did so much to help Dai and nothing was too much trouble.”
Dai had three children and three step-children and 12 grandchildren and step-grandchildren.
His death was met with an outpouring of grief across Wales and from fans of the clubs he played for.
“Dai had worked extensively on television promoting football through the medium of Welsh,” said Judy.
“He was a loving family man and we all miss him greatly. However, it is comforting to know how much he meant to people and that was clear from the wonderful tributes paid to him.”
Nightingale House is marking its 25th birthday by running its Build a Balloon fundraising campaign, which will see a hot air balloon take to the skies complete with sponsored panels.
Ifor Williams Trailers has regularly supported the hospice and is throwing its weight behind the Build a Balloon campaign by serving as a corporate sponsor.
As she returned to Nightingale House to show her support for the campaign, Judy met with Lois Wynne from Ifor Williams Trailers.
Lois conveyed the strong relationship that has been developed between the two organisations.
She said: “Nightingale House is such a lovely and important cause that we have been supporting for several years.
“The balloon campaign is again something we are very happy to support and we would encourage anybody who is able to get involved to do so.
“It has been a pleasure to meet with Judy and it is nice to hear how much she appreciates what the hospice did for her husband, Dai.
“The hospice does a lot of very important work and we at Ifor Williams Trailers are keen to do whatever we can to support it.”
Sarah Povey, community and event fundraiser at Nightingale House, expressed her thanks for the company’s sponsorship.
She said: “We are very grateful for the support we receive from our corporate sponsors, including Ifor Williams Trailers.
“We have enjoyed a good relationship with Ifor Williams Trailers for many years and the support they provide makes a massive difference to us.
“The last year has been very challenging as we have not been able to hold some fundraising events, meaning we have lost out on a substantial amount of income.
“The Build a Balloon campaign is therefore very important and we appreciate the support we have received. Every donation to the hospice is gratefully accepted.
“We are also grateful for the kind words Judy has said about the hospice. At Nightingale House we seek to go to great lengths to help our patients as much as we possibly can.”
For more information about Nightingale House and how to donate visit www.nightingalehouse.co.uk