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Craftsman Rod’s generous gift

Lindsey, right, with colleague Tracey Gaughan and just some of the walking sticks that Rod has donated.

A wood craftsman’s generous donation has the potential to earn over £1,000 for Doncaster’s St John’s Hospice.

Retired teacher Rod Hughes,77, from Wakefield, has given the Balby hospice 55 of his hand-made walking sticks, some of which retail at up to £50 apiece at craft fairs and can take up to four days to make.

He has gifted the sticks as a thank you for the care his wife Pat – a former occupational therapist at Doncaster Royal Infirmary – received from hospice staff when she was admitted to St John’s in 2002, then aged 54.

Rod, who taught catering but developed an interest in wood crafting many years ago, said: “The care Pat received was exceptional and towards the end of her life the nurses even allowed me to sleep on the floor of her room so I could spend as much time with her as possible.

“I had the seasoned wood in my garage and used lockdown to make the sticks in a range of different designs.”

Made from ash, chestnut and holly, the sticks are soaked in water and then hung vertically in Rod’s garage to dry out for at least a year before he starts work on them, crafting ornate handles from materials like antler and laminates, and elaborate designs on the shafts using pyrography.

St John’s fundraiser Lindsey Richards said: “We are extremely grateful to Rod for continuing to have the hospice in his thoughts. It is a wonderful donation at a time when Covid has really impacted on our fundraising activities.

“We are pricing the sticks according to the detail on them and amount of work entailed in making them. If you would like to buy one, please contact the fundraising office on 01302 796662 and we can make arrangements for you to come along and choose one.”