When Jenny Turners’ father was admitted to the ellenor hospice with terminal cancer, her world fell apart. Her dad Alan had always been such an inspiration and a support to her that she couldn’t imagine life without him.
She said: “None of us can get over the loss of such a great man; we are all heartbroken. My dad was literally my hero.”
Retired firefighter Alan was in the Northfleet hospice for the last four days of his life -- with Jenny, her sister Michelle and mum Linda by his side.
Jenny said: “We couldn’t thank ellenor enough for what they did for us. I was so relieved when he was transferred there from the hospital. We would have been lost without the hospice.”
Jenny, who works front of house at the Cygnet Leisure Centre in Northfleet, contacted ellenor again recently as she wanted to talk about her dad and tell the world what a special person he was.
“There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for anyone,” she said. “His nickname was Big Al, and everyone loved him. He was such a caring man. He was a true legend – one of the old school gentlemen.
“He had a beautiful upbringing in Sidcup and that carried on through to me and my sister. His whole life revolved around my mum and us kids. That’s all he ever wanted.
“He was a London Firefighter and growing up with a fireman dad was amazing. We loved all the stories he would tell of saving people’s lives.”
Alan spent his retirement taking Linda on days out and playing golf with his best mates Colin and Roy.
Jenny said: “Dad was the person you would invite to the party. He was really funny, and he was such an active person. He was always out on his bike, stopping off at Nell’s Café in Gravesend with his friends Roy, Alan, Dave and Malcolm.”
Alan was also a dedicated gardener, creating a Japanese garden at the family home in Gravesend, and more recently building a beautiful outdoor space for granddaughter Talesha.
Jenny said: “During his early days in the fire service, he was based on the boats in London Greenwich, then Gravesend and then in Downham London, and he loved the water. One of his other loves was to go fishing – sea and river. He also loved his pints at The Gravesend Boat!”
Alan was diagnosed with a rare form of stomach cancer four years before he died.
“He was such a strong person, and he was determined not to let the cancer beat him,” said Jenny. “For a few years he was able to carry on being really active. But about seven months before he died, they discovered a shadow on his liver. He started to deteriorate very fast and ended up in Darenth Valley Hospital with an infection.”
Alan was transferred from there to the ellenor hospice for end-of-life care.
Jenny said: “They were amazing, so caring and always checking up on us. I remember us watching the England final game with him, lying on the bed with him and the nurses coming in and out – it was a great atmosphere and we kept singing to him.”