A loving daughter from Worcester has spoken of the “amazing” care her mother received at St Richard’s Hospice.
Gillian Pat Barlow – who was known as Pat – was admitted to St Richard’s in June 2015, after being diagnosed with lung cancer earlier that year.
Mrs Barlow, a former nursing sister and magistrate from Worcester, became so unwell her daughter, Anne Eyre, decided to contact St Richard’s. Mrs Barlow was settled into the hospice’s In-patient Unit the next day.
Mrs Eyre, aged 42 from St John’s, Worcester, said: “From the moment she arrived at St. Richard's, waiting for Mum to die stopped being so agonising. She felt safe and secure.
“Mum knew that the hospice would look after and enable her to die with dignity and with her pain well-managed. She also knew that it would give us the time and space to make some memories, especially with her two grandsons. Although most people in Worcester must know that St Richard’s exists, it isn’t until you become involved with them that you realise just how very special the whole organisation is. My mum dying was undoubtedly hard but I believe strongly that it would have been much harder without the support of St. Richard’s”
She added, “During the first day she was there, she told the staff at the hospice how she wanted to die. By doing this and being listened to, she was released from some of her fears and was able to find the strength to live again, to enjoy spending time with her family and friends instead of just waiting for the end. My then two-year-old Matthew visited her with me every day and still remembers sitting on her bed whilst she read to him. William, then six, used to play in the beautiful gardens, popping in and out of his Nanna's room with tales of ducks, beautiful flowers and the ‘dingle-dangle tree’.
“And, no longer worried that she would die frightened or in pain or trying to work out how I could help her, I was able to sit by my beautiful Mum's bedside every evening being her daughter. In the peace of the setting summer sun, I read her favourite book to her, we chatted, we laughed, we held hands and sometimes we cried.”
Mrs Barlow was 68 when she died after celebrating her last birthday at the Worcester-based hospice.
After her death, Mrs Barlow’s daughter and grandchildren have continued to be supported by St Richard’s. Mrs Eyre, a trained social worker, received counselling and reflexology, and still visits the hospice’s Sacred Space to light a candle in her mother’s memory.
Her eldest son, now aged eight, has been helped by the Family Support Team and there will be support for Matthew, as he grows older.
“Perhaps I might have thought that returning to the hospice would be painful after Mum died there but it isn't; the whole building is suffused with love, respect, positivity, understanding, compassion and comfort,” added Mrs Eyre.
“The hospice is like the best friend I can imagine having, always there and always noticing when I need them.”
Mrs Eyre and her friend the lead singer of local rock and pop covers band, Witcher, Jo Hardie, are organising a fundraising gig for St Richard’s on Friday, 23rd June. Pitmaston Primary School, Malvern Road, Worcester has generously agreed that their school hall can be used as the venue.
Mrs Eyre said,” We will never be able to repay the hospice for everything they did for us but we hope that we can raise both funds and awareness for St Richard’s, as well as offering a great night out!”
Doors open for the gig at 7.30pm. There will be a licenced bar, raffle and auction and tickets are just £5 each. Tickets can be requested by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or sending a message to the Facebook page, Witcher.
St Richard’s Hospice provides free specialist palliative care for patients living with life-limiting illnesses and supports their loved ones. Each year the hospice team supports over 3,000 patients and family members and the bereaved in Worcestershire.
The hospice strives to provide the best medical, practical, emotional and social support they can to help people live life to the fullest, as independently as they can, for as long as they can.
St Richard’s is an independent charity and is grateful for all donations to help it continue its work.
Find out more at www.strichards.org.uk