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Belfast's Marie Curie Hospice serves up a Valentine's treat

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Chef Michael McAreavey

Chef Michael McAreavey

Marie Curie nurse Emily Jackson

Marie Curie nurse Emily Jackson

Chef Michael McAreavey

Staff at the Marie Curie Hospice in Belfast on Friday put together a special Valentine's Day meal so patients and their families could celebrate the most romantic day of the year.

The hospice cares for around 460 people each year who are living with a terminal illness in Northern Ireland.

Chef Michael McAreavey has been running the special dinner service on Valentine's Day since he joined Marie Curie three years ago.

To prepare for the event, Michael set up the individual rooms of those staying at the facility, where he and his staff dressed the tables with linen and flowers for a personalised evening menu of food and drinks.

"We will give them a wee three-course meal with dessert and drinks. It will be the full works," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

The Belfast man comes from a restaurant background and explained that he tries to give those at the Hospice and their families an individual taste of a great night out.

"You see the delight in their faces, that they are really getting something they were not expecting and they cant believe we cater for this," he continued.

"For them it means all the world. It is about trying to make them feel as much at home as possible."

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Marie Curie nurse Emily Jackson

Marie Curie nurse Emily Jackson

Marie Curie nurse Emily Jackson

The options on the menu included sweet potato soup with herb croutons, with a main of rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce and a suitably heart shaped shortbread biscuit with strawberry cream for dessert.

Nurse Emily Jackson (25), from Saintfield, said it is a "privilege" to work in the Hospice, adding that the staff like to make occasions like Valentine's Day special for their patients.

"There is a nice atmosphere around, the patients are really excited. When I've been going in to see them, they are all talking about what is happening later," she said.

"Their relatives are coming up and all of them have cards and Valentine's presents in the rooms.

"A lot of patients can't get out to celebrate the day, so it is nice to bring Valentine's Day to them and make it special.

"This is just a small thing to brighten up their day. I love being a nurse here - you get very close to the patients."

Belfast Telegraph