In August 2016, shortly after celebrating her Golden Wedding Anniversary with husband Ken, Barbara, 71, was diagnosed with acute leukaemia. The family turned to Fair Havens Hospice at Home for help and two months later on 4th October 2016 Barbara died at home surrounded by her family.
“We would never have got Barbara home without Fair Havens Hospice at Home; when she was discharged from hospital we were given two carrier bags of medication, plus we had the medication she already took for her Parkinson’s and Lobelia Panniculitis. I put the bags on the counter and I just looked at it. I thought, where do I start?"
“The care you get at hospital is good, but to me when you’re in a hospital you are just a patient, with Hospice at Home they cared for Barbara as if she were their friend. We got to know them all and they’d always come in and be sociable – they never came in all doom and gloom – we’d have a laugh together, they’d chat with us over a cup of tea and a cake while they cared for Barbara."
“They gave Barbara the freedom to be herself still. One day they arrived and asked how Barbara had been and I told them her breathing hadn’t been brilliant. Suddenly from the back room we all heard “Well if my breathing was that bad I’d be dead” followed by laughter – Barbara always had such a dry sense of humor and was always very quick with her witty replies. The care and upbeat attitude of every member of the Hospice at Home team actually allowed us all to laugh with each other and let Barbara continue to be Barbara."
“They couldn’t do enough for her and I shall always be indebted for their care.”
Ken, Barbara’s husband
Ken now volunteers once a week at Little Havens with the Maintenance team.
He says, “I really enjoy volunteering, I feel like I’m giving back to the charity that was there for Barbara. Doing something for others is rewarding for me, not only am I helping, but I get to have a bit of a laugh with the people I’m working with, enjoying their company and meeting new people. When you’re at home of course you can do bits and bobs around the house or in the garden, but with volunteering you get to have a laugh and socialise at the same time.”
In April 2018 Ken and his son Gary, did a skydive to raise money for the Hospice at Home team.
Ken said, “I had picked up a leaflet at the hospice and thought I’m never going to get a chance to do this again and really if I am going to do a skydive it has to be now. Everyone that knows me thought I was crazy for wanting to do it – I know Barbara would’ve definitely been worrying about me doing it, but I like to think she’d be proud of me once I was safely on the ground.”
Gary added, “We are such a tight family unit; so when Dad said he wanted to do a skydive, I was dubious about a man in his seventies jumping out a plane, but I wanted to support him so signed up to do it with him. It was a way for us as a family to say thank you to the Hospice at Home team and to help them continue being there for other families like ours."
“Without Havens Hospices we would have never got Mum home, she would never have got her final wish; so for us it is vitally important that we support Havens and fundraise for them.”
Having completed the skydive, Ken and Gary are now looking to their next challenge.
Ken said “I loved it, it was such a rush! I can’t quite believe that I’m in my seventies and I’m suddenly an adrenaline junkie! I think I’d like to do a WingWalk next; hopefully Gary will join me!”
Gary said, “I’m not sure about a Wing Walk, but will always support my Dad in anything he decides to do for Havens Hospices, because honestly without them Mum wouldn’t have been able to live her last weeks the way she wanted too. Fundraising for them is our way of saying thank you.”
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