Working as a hospice volunteer has given Mandy a chance to give something back to the charity that cared for her late husband. 

She said: “I really enjoy volunteering at ellenor and when I see some of the people who helped us, I can even thank them in person. ellenor were a massive help to us during my husband’s illness. They enabled him to be at home for the last week of his life, which is what we wanted.” 

Mandy, who is in her 50s and has two grown-up children, started volunteering at the hospice in Northfleet after she was made redundant from her part-time job for a charity. 

Following the online training provided by ellenor, she started coming in one afternoon a week to help run the host desk. She is the friendly face as visitors walk through the door, ready to meet and greet and point them in the right direction. 

She said: “A lot of volunteers at ellenor have similar stories to mine, which is nice to share when you need to – other times you might not want to. It’s a lovely place to be.” 

Her husband was diagnosed with a stage four brain tumour at the beginning of 2019 and died in September 2021. As Mandy knew that her husband’s condition would deteriorate, she took the sensible decision to get in touch with ellenor during the early stages. 

She said: “The diagnosis was quite a shock – it was awful. It was as though he had suffered a stroke down the right hand side of his body. He lost the use of his right arm and leg; he became bed bound and then lost his speech. 

“We knew it was terminal from the start, so I wanted to put things in place in advance, rather than it becoming and emergency.” 

“The Hospice@Home team were amazing, checking in with us once a month right from the beginning. They came out increasingly to see him as his condition got worse, and when he needed a syringe driver. I couldn’t have done what I did without their support, both physically and emotionally.” 

He was admitted to Darent Valley hospital not long before he died and was then transferred briefly to the hospice so they could prepare him to go home to be with his wife and children during his last days. 

Mandy said:“When you are caring for a loved one, you just deal with it. It’s not until afterwards you realise “Hospice care is so different to hospital care. When we were at the hospice, the cook even came in and asked us both what we would like to eat – no menu, just anything we wanted. Being surrounded by people like that makes you feel like you are really being supported. hat a toll it did take on you, but I wouldn’t have had it any differently.” 

Mandy has had some counselling through ellenor, which she has found a real comfort – and interesting as she herself has studied the profession. 

For now, Mandy is enjoying her hospice work, spending a bit of time alone to grieve her husband and catching up with friends and family she was unable to spend so much time with during his illness. She is considering continuing with the counselling course she started before he became ill and might even apply to ellenor for a job in the future. 

She said: “I have nothing but positive comments to make about ellenor. I even came in on the anniversary of his death. It was also when the Queen had died and they lit a candle in her memory and said a few words – it was then that the tears came. But a couple of hugs later I had composed myself and was OK to carry on.  

“I don’t want to feel like a victim, and that is what he would have wanted. I know for some people it’s very difficult to even get out of bed. I’m not saying I don’t have my bad days but I do try to be positive about the future. Volunteering for ellenor has helped tremendously, and I have made friends along they way.”