Every day, firefighter Gemma Bloxham risks her life to protect the people of London.
She enters burning buildings. Is on the frontlines of some of the most dangerous situations a person can be in. And has witnessed tragedies – including the Grenfell Tower disaster – first hand.
Flying in the face of fear is all in a day’s work – and Gemma admits she gets a ‘buzz’ out of it. But two years ago, when Gemma’s granddad became ill – when his condition deteriorated, and doctors could do no more – she was faced with a different kind of fear: the inevitability of losing her granddad.
Fortunately, ellenor was on hand to help out. Cared for Gemma’s granddad, and supported her nan, during the final weeks of his life. All from their own home within the community.
“ellenor was amazing,” says Gemma. “When ellenor’s nurses came to our home, they became family. The love, the care – it was second to none.”
For Gemma, who’s born and bred in Gravesend, it wasn’t her first brush with ellenor. Even now, at the age of 34 and with a child of her own, she remembers being just 11 years old, coming to ellenor to sing Christmas carols.
Gemma knew about ellenor. But by her own admission, her conception of what it actually did – and what hospices in general do – was off the mark.
“Like everyone, I thought a hospice was just a place people go to die. What I didn’t realise was how much more there is to it – how much ellenor gives back.
“Plus, people tend to think of hospices as sad, depressing cases – which couldn’t be further from the truth! You walk into ellenor, and everyone has a smile on their face. It’s a warm, welcoming place.”
Another thing about ellenor Gemma didn’t know? That, as a charity, it isn’t funded by the government. Instead, ellenor relies almost solely on the generosity of its local community for the funds it needs to operate – a staggering £7 million every year.
So, after Gemma’s granddad passed away under ellenor’s care, she and her brother both resolved to take action. To raise funds for – and vital awareness of – the crucial care ellenor provides to its local communities.