Cancer patient Ivor Bartholomew wants to fill the last weeks of his life with special memories for the whole family, and staff at hospice charity ellenor have rallied round to make it happen.
A lifelong animal lover, Ivor has always enjoyed the greyhound racing, but feared the limitations of his illness would make one last trip to “the dogs” unfeasible. But he and his family had no idea of the doggedness, determination, and creativeness of the team at ellenor.
Everyone from the medical and wellbeing teams to the catering and transport staff pulled out all the stops to make sure Ivor and 13 other members of his family had a day out never to be forgotten!
Ivor, who was admitted to the hospice a couple of weeks ago, said: “Greyhound racing is fun -- I’ve always loved it. We used to go every year on family birthdays, or I used to go with a few of my mates. It’s a way to enjoy yourself, have a laugh and a joke.
“It was a good experience. Because of my condition and my birthday coming up, it was a case of everyone getting together. It was nice to have them all there.”
Thanks to the organisational skills of the ellenor hospice team, Ivor, who will be 56 on November 25, was able to join his family at the greyhound racing stadium, Crayford Stadium for an early birthday treat. They enjoyed some good-natured betting and banter – and gave all £220 of the money they had thrown into their collective pot to ellenor.
Sitting in a wheelchair, Ivor was taken to Crayford in an adapted car by one of ellenor’s volunteer drivers, accompanied by family support worker Terrie May and occupational therapist Claire Dudbridge.
Terrie said: “It was definitely a team effort. Claire worked on the mobility side, and I got the OK to make it happen. We did it not just for Ivor but for his whole family. It was possibly the last time they would see him – it was definitely something for all of them.”
Claire agreed: ““He had so much fun that he managed to last a staggering six hours out in his wheelchair that day, which for him was like climbing Everest!”
In the days leading up to the trip Claire spent time acclimatising Ivor to the wheelchair and finding comfortable sitting positions. Being able to use the chair also meant Ivor could visit the hospice café for tea and cake with his visitors and buy cards and flowers.
Claire said: “The whole ellenor team worked to make the special day at the races happen. Terrie liaised with the family, and we acted as escorts for the day to allow things to run smoothly. The doctors ordered special medication that could be taken off site to allow his pain to be managed. Ward nurses and health care assistants ensured he was ready early; he had all medications ready along with all paperwork needed for the day. The catering team ensured breakfast was served early so he had something to eat before he went. The admin team helped to arrange a volunteer driver, who gave up his day for us.”
Ivor said: “Once you get to the stadium, there is a lift for wheelchairs. It takes you to a nice little room and you can sit where you want. People come out to you and ask if you want a bet and what food you would like to order.”