Colin And Robin Banner
Colin And Robin Banner

Two Weddings, One Day, and a Friendship a Lifetime in the Making

In March 2023, fate brought together two men facing challenging health battles at ellenor.

Colin, living with terminal cancer of the bowel and liver, and Robin, suffering with emphysema. They found common ground in their desire to access ellenor’s wellbeing services.

To their amazement, they realised an astonishing coincidence – they both married their wives on the same day, in the same year, and at the same church.

This serendipitous encounter sparked a deep friendship and a beautiful brotherhood that has provided unwavering support throughout their health journeys, and offered comfort and compassion during difficult times.

“Even with my diagnosis, I remained determined to embrace life to the fullest. There was fitness to be upheld; new people to meet. That’s why I joined ellenor’s Seated Exercise Group: eager to seize every opportunity.

“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Colin continues, casting his mind back to that first brush with ellenor. “I was apprehensive. But when I arrived, a very nice member of staff met me, and made me a cup of tea. I suddenly went from being anxious to feeling at home!”

Colin sat down with two men of a similar age to sip his tea. The topic of conversation?


Soon, it emerged that all three, bizarrely, were married in the same church, in the same year.

Then, one of the men – Robin – asked Colin which month, and the plot thickened again. Because Colin and Robin were not only married in the same place, in the same year – but on the same day.

The finding marked the first conversation in what was to become a firm friendship – the beginning of a brilliant, beautiful brotherhood.

“We consider each other brothers,” says Colin. “Robin is one of the main reasons I come here. I look forward to doing the exercises, of course – but also just having a chat with him.”

Robin has emphysema, which – though the condition precludes participation from the seated exercise group Colin loves – still enables him to enjoy ellenor’s art therapy sessions. Robin’s made bracelets for his daughter and granddaughter, and savoured the culture of camaraderie the class offers.

For Colin, the seated exercise group has borne similar benefits.

“This group means an awful lot. It gets me to talk to people – men and women – who are in the same boat as I am."

ellenor keeps me going; and keeps other people going, too.

- Colin, ellenor Patient

As well as attending these supportive sessions in person, Colin is also cared for by ellenor from his own home. He’s given morphine for the crippling pain of his cancer, as well as emotional support for the mental anguish it comes with.

“The staff here at ellenor are brilliant,” Colin says. “I haven’t met one who hasn’t been really helpful. When I first came here, I was so depressed that a couple of times I broke down in tears. There was always someone from ellenor who’d come over to make sure I was alright.”

ellenor has also helped Colin – who, by his own admission, was struggling with depression following his diagnosis – take an alternative route back to happiness.

“When I first got to ellenor, the nurses suggested not going onto pills for the depression, but instead to try and get involved with these classes, and meet those in similar situations – and see if they cheered me up. Well, they certainly do – they’ve really, really helped.”

Sadly, only one of the women who were wed at Perry Street’s All Saints Church that day in 1965 is still around. Robin’s wife passed away several years ago, while Colin’s wife, who has dementia, lives in a nearby care home. Against this backdrop – the loneliness of life after a long-term partner passes away or develops a degenerative condition – Colin and Robin’s family-like friendship takes on a whole new layer of significance.

Unlike Robin, Colin was aware of ellenor’s presence and profile in the local Kent and Bexley communities. But, like many people who haven’t had any direct brushes with hospice care, he held the common misconception that a hospice was simply “a place you go to die.”

Now, Colin sees ellenor as the place that – particularly after realising, recently, that he’s no longer able to drive – has given him back him independence. It’s connected him with like-minded people in comparable circumstances, is helping him regain and maintain his fitness – and has placed the man he calls a “brother” in his life.

It’s not a place of death, but of life – and laughter.

“It’s nice to come here and hear laughter,” he says. “Everyone here has something wrong with them, but you don’t hear crying or moaning – people are laughing. They’re enjoying themselves!”

Funnily enough, Colin and Robin’s wedding date and location aren’t where the parallels of their lives end. Both men have a son and a daughter, and a pair of grandchildren apiece. And, looking at their similar personalities – and the even more similar trajectories their lives have taken – it’s remarkable to think that, if not for ellenor, these best pals would never have found each other.

So what does Colin have to say about the place that brought them together?

It’s wonderful. What ellenor does – and with the money it has to scrape up to do it – it works absolute wonders, and it’d certainly be missed if it ran out of funding.

- Colin, ellenor Patient

“Neither Robin or I really knew what ellenor did before coming here – until you need hospice care, you’ve no idea, have you? But there’s so much more going on than meets the eye, and ellenor offers so many benefits.

“It’s certainly benefited us!”