Katharine House shares fundraisers’ touching stories

It has been a busy week at the Katharine House Hospice with the launch of a new fundraising initiative and the celebration of those who went above and beyond during last year’s Santa Fun Run.

Friday, 8th March 2019, 2:05 pm
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 2:10 pm
Ronnie's Reindeers were the top fundraising team in last years Santa Fun Run for Katharine House Hospice NNL-190103-155717001

The top three individual fundraisers and the top fundraising team, along with friends and family, were invited to an informal thank you event at the hospice. In all the four fundraisers raised £3,700.

Mandy Bray, community fundraiser, said: “I just want to say a massive thank you for the funds they have raised.

Wendy Woodward and husband Andy fundraised for Katharine House Hospice NNL-190503-101044001

“The money provides so many different services, it’s not just a bed, it’s not just the care for the individual it’s for all the family members too.”

The fundraisers’ experiences with the hospice illustrate the range of services offered to patients and the inclusiveness felt by family and friends of the patient.

Caroline Dutton became involved with the hospice after her father, Malcolm, became ill. His illness, however marked the beginning of a new chapter in Malcolm’s life.

Caroline said: “My dad started coming in May 2017 to the day group to get out of the house, but he enjoyed meeting all the other people here.

Julie Mills with daughters Elanor and Anwen hand over a cheque to the Katharine House Hospice NNL-190228-134905001

“He went to the art classes and became quite accomplished at water colours, which he had never done before.

“He was the church organist in Bodicote for 24 years so he helped choose the hymns for the day group service and dad played the piano so that was an important part for him to get his musical side back as well.”

While Caroline ran the Santa Fun Run alone, the top fundraising group did the event as a family.

Ronnie’s Reindeers, a group of ten from adults to toddlers, were formed in the memory of Veronica Broomhall, known to friends and family as Ronnie.

Lisa Bambridge, Ronnie’s daughter, said: “We all ran it. My mother was looked after here in 2016 and Katharine House were amazing.

“We did the run quite last minute. We did it in a fortnight so we were grateful to get any sponsors two weeks before Christmas.”

The shared fundraising experience mirrored the family’s visits to see Ronnie when young and old alike would descend on the hospice.

Lisa said: “I don’t think I could articulate just how incredible the staff were with us, the children, my dad, mum’s siblings and the grandchildren.

“Everyone we encountered was so caring and kind and it made the whole experience so much easier. I received extra care as I was 36 weeks pregnant when mum arrived and the staff would nervously reassure me every now and then that they were sure one of the nurses could deliver the baby if it came.”

Wendy Woodard, who raised £761 for the hospice had done so in memory of her son, who passed away in 2016 while still in his 30s.

Wendy said: “Nick was diagnosed in 2002, at the age of 23, with a grade three brain tumour. He was operated on immediately, followed up with intense radiotherapy and six cycles of chemo.”

Nick was in remission for five years, when the cancer retuned. After a-year long battle Nick passed away in 2016.

Wendy said: “We had promised Nick we would nurse him at home, which we did. We felt it was a privilege, and the support we had from Katy from KHH was priceless. Nick was also very fond of her.

“We also were able to call the hospice when we had any worries. In fact the support from the whole system was fantastic.”

There is no easy way to say goodbye to a loved one but that journey can be made more painful when young children are involved.

That was the burden of Julie Mills whose husband, Dave, passed away at the hospice at the age of 43, leaving his wife and two daughters, Eleanor, then aged seven and Anwen, then aged three.

Julie said: “In the late summer of 2016, my husband Dave began to notice changes in his health; he was low on energy, achy, had increasing stomach issues and was losing weight. 

“Every night he would flood the bed with sweat, which was very unusual. Initially the GP diagnosed constipation but no treatments seemed to change anything. Then they suggested IBS so we tried the

FODMAP diet but again this showed no obvious allergies.”

It would take many more months and a barrage of tests to finally diagnose Dave with duodenal cancer in March 2017.

His health began to decline alarmingly, he had lost half of his body weight and could barely eat.

In May 2017 Dave moved into Katharine House to live out his final days.

Julie said: “We had already explained to our daughters that Daddy’s cancer had returned and could not be cured. When he went into the hospice I talked about it again with them that night, so that they realised this meant he would die. 

“When they went to the hospice to see him the next day, nurse Sarah sat with me and the girls in the children’s den at Katharine House and explained to them that their Daddy was going to die very soon, in the next few days.

“This was such a hard conversation to have and I was so grateful of her help with this.

“Since then I’ve been coming back to see a bereavement councillor which has been really helpful. Not everyone wants to come back here but I find it really comforting.”

She added: “The hospice environment is so different from a hospital. We’ll definitely keep fundraising, they’re so amazing.”