Hospice Voices

Claire's story

Claire shares her motivations for organising an antique fair, a unique way of fundraising, after her grandfather George was cared for on the In-Patient Ward.

“Grandad was the head of our family; he brought me up as if he were my father, we were very close. He just loved life, and people, and his family. He was one of those ‘old souls’ that was just so wise. I can’t really put into words what a father figure he was for us, we all just adored him. He was fiercely protective of us. So, as he came to the end of his life helping him access the best care that we could was very important to us.

My family and I cared for him at home for the last year of his life. He called my grandmother, mum, auntie and I ‘his girls’. He had a lot of health problems and the NHS gave up on him, really. He had liver failure despite never drinking. I know that’s how life goes, terminal illnesses aren’t fair, but it was so hard.

When Grandad was first referred to the Hospice he thought it meant losing hope. We had to explain to him “Grandad, you aren’t going to get better, but the Hospice will help you to be as well as you can. We need their help.”

Once he was here, he loved it!

Grandad’s time on the Ward was obviously very emotional, but it was much easier on my family than the earlier stages of his illness. The Hospice staff just did everything for him. One nurse even walked backwards down the car park to help him arrive comfortably. We each slept by his side every night for the last week of his life. I wrote a letter to Grandad which I read to him during that last week, whilst he was unresponsive, and again at his funeral. It was very difficult, but he was such an amazing person that I wanted to do him justice. It was a privilege to be his granddaughter.

Grandad was an Antique dealer, silverware was his passion. When he was on the In-Patient Ward he promised some of the nurses that he would run an antique fair to fundraise for the Hospice, to say thank you for the care he received. I knew, as he said the words, that he wouldn’t be here to do that. And I decided right at that moment that I would do this for him when the time came.

Grandad died on the In-Patient Ward in October and I’m organising an Antique fair in his memory, to Fundraise for the Hospice and to say thank you. The fair will be held at The Skinners School, Tunbridge Wells on 28th April. I’m telling everyone I see to come along!

Losing your loved one is the worst time of your life, undoubtedly. But this gives me something positive to focus on. It’s really important to me that we do this, as one of his final wishes. And after the Hospice helped us so much, we’ll do anything to support them.”