Supporter says ellenor hospice is part of the community - Tina and Robert's story
Widow Tina will always be grateful to ellenor where she received so much support during and after her husband’s death. She and her family are determined to give back to the charity which gave them so much solace.
Since her husband Robert died at our hospice in Northfleet, Tina and her three daughters, Kirsty, Lisa, and Emma, have taken part in fundraising and pledged to increase awareness among friends and family.
Their support began with an online collection after Robert died in 2017, which raised about £800. Since then Tina has also taken part in the charity’s annual fundraising Twilight Walk and raised £1,132.
She says: “My daughters did the last Twilight Walk themselves as the Covid restrictions meant they couldn’t have crowds of people all walking at once. Emma also does the lottery and I have a leaf for Robert on ellenor’s Memory Tree.”
My middle daughter, Lisa, is also planning to do a half marathon in aid of ellenor.
“The irony is that Robert used to collect for the ellenor lottery years ago, and we always used to go to the Christmas and spring fairs. Before Robert had to go into the hospice, I always said I wouldn’t mind volunteering there once I retired. Now that might be a bit of a hard thing to do, with all the memories. But I want to do all I can to support them and help raise money.
“A lot of people don’t realise how much the hospice does within the community, but it is lovely to have it on hand. Living in Gravesend, it’s part of us.”
Tina, 68, is also full of praise for our counselling service.
She says: “I was having counselling before Robert died, and afterwards. It helped me understand why it had happened, what was happening. You feel helpless, but I really found talking to someone helpful.”
Robert first became ill in about 2013, and just after the couple had renewed their wedding vows and celebrated their 40th anniversary, he was diagnosed with oesophagus cancer. A few years later he was also diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Tina says: “He was given a year to 18 months to live. I remember coming out of the consulting room feeling completely shell-shocked.”
“A nurse from ellenor came to visit us at home and she asked Robert if he wanted to die at home or in the hospice -- it came as quite a shock.”
Robert realised Tina would feel more comfortable if he went into the hospice when he became weaker.
She says: “I didn’t realise it would all happen so soon. But when we arrived at the hospice I was so grateful to hand him over to their care and I will always remember the ward sister holding my hand and saying I was no longer his carer; I was his wife again. It was a relief that I didn’t have to worry any longer. He was safe and warm and comfortable, and he was being looked after by other people.
“It was coming up to Christmas and we had lots of family and friends in the room - we played Christmas music and had Christmas lights. It was a special time.”
Robert also befriended our chaplain Ben, who was with the family until the moment he died and took the funeral service.
Tina says: “One day this wonderful man walked into the room. He introduced himself and within a couple of minutes he knew Robert loved football, how many daughters he had and where he lived. He has a way of talking about things and remembering what people have said. He would stay with Robert when I went home and sometimes, he was already there with Robert before I got there in the mornings.
“Ben was always there for all of us. The girls found it very easy to talk to him and sometimes shared a prayer with him in the prayer room.
“We were all with Robert at the hospice for three and a half weeks before he died and afterwards it felt funny to go home. Until lockdown, we kept going into the café for a coffee and a sandwich, and maybe to see Ben and have a little prayer.
“The hospice is part of our community. I follow ellenor on Facebook, so I keep up to date with what’s going on and we definitely want to continue to be involved. Once Covid restrictions are lifted, the hospice is one of the first places we will visit.”