Since he was 16 years old Ian Gentle worked as an electrical engineer, firstly as an apprentice working on power stations for the central electricity generating board and later for London Underground and the central electricity board.
He had a close and loving family - his wife of 34 years Julie, their sons Robin, 28 and his wife Hayley and their son Theo; Jonathan, 24 and his girlfriend Marilena; daughter Georgia, 27 and her fiancé Andy.
In 2013 Ian developed a chest infection which wouldn’t go away. He had a chest X-Ray during which something was spotted and a biopsy was carried out but the results were inconclusive. He then had scans every three months but it wasn’t until he started experiencing pains down his arm following a pneumonia vaccine that a diagnosis was found.
“He had Mesothelioma,” says Julie. “It’s caused by asbestos which he worked with when he was an apprentice at 16 and later in his career and it took that long to develop, which is what it does, so you don’t know you have it.”
Ian was diagnosed in April 2015 and started on a clinical trial at St Barts Hospital. Initially the treatment worked and his tumour shrunk by 10%. However during a pre-treatment blood test a problem was picked up with Ian’s liver.
In October 2015 the family was told there was no more treatment available and, at Ian’s request, the family turned to Fair Havens.
“It was devastating news for us all. My Dad was a very jolly man and always saw the brighter side of things and his main priority was always us,” says Ian’s daughter, Georgia.
“He was adamant he wanted to go to a hospice,” adds his wife Julie. “Going to Fair Havens was what he asked for, he didn’t want to come home. I stayed at Fair Havens with him the whole time. Being at the hospice meant I could just focus on Ian. It also meant that family and friends could come and see him more easily because we were local. Being up in London at hospital wasn’t always easy and you’re restricted to visiting times.”
Georgia continues, “If we hadn’t have got to the hospice obviously we would have taken care of him at home but it would have been that much more difficult emotionally, mentally and physically because my Mum barely slept.”
Ian was a always a religious man but towards the end of his life, he found great comfort in his Faith.
Whilst Ian was in hospital, Georgia’s boyfriend at the time, Andy, asked for his permission to marry his daughter. They had their future wedding blessed at the hospital so Ian could see it.
In June 2015 Ian and his wife Julie became grandparents for the first time to their eldest son Robin and wife Hayley’s son Theo. A christening was booked for 1st November but as Ian’s condition deteriorated a blessing took place at Fair Havens instead so that Ian could share the moment with his family.
On 4th November 2015 Ian died at Fair Havens Hospice.
“Fair Havens took great care of my Dad, all the staff bent over backwards to make sure the last days of his life were happy and in as little pain as possible. They also took excellent care of my Mum and provided emotional support to her as well and I cannot thank them enough for that.
In January Georgia’s colleagues challenged her to quit drinking any fizzy drinks (she had been known to drink up to four in a day) she accepted the challenge but only as a fundraiser for a charity close to her, so she chose Fair Havens. Georgia gave up all fizzy drinks for five weeks and raised over £1,000 in the process.
“Losing my Dad was the most difficult and painful experience of my life but it would have been so much harder without Fair Havens.”
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