My younger sister Viv was amazing. She was such good fun, with a wicked sense of humour and she had the ability to make anyone laugh. She was my best friend. So I was devastated when, at the age of 50, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in March 2008. Her condition deteriorated quickly and she was admitted to Salisbury Hospice in November of that year. I had moved to West Yorkshire from my hometown of Wiltshire as a teenager but I returned home to visit Viv. I had never been to a hospice before but I was relieved that Viv was no longer in hospital. It was so comforting to see the way she was being cared for by the nurses – nothing was too much trouble.
I travelled back to Yorkshire after I had seen her and knew that I was leaving her in the very best hands. A few days later, Viv died peacefully at the Hospice. The nurses told me that she hadn’t been alone and that they had laid a rose on her pillow next to her once she had passed. This meant so much to me.
Not long after losing Viv, I retired and wanted to do something with my spare time. My daughter, Tracey, was already volunteering at our local hospice, Overgate and she put me in touch with them. I started volunteering in the fundraising office straight away and have now been a part of this team since 2009.
As part of my role, I help to prepare for the Hospice’s fundraising events. I love being a part of the team and we have such a laugh. As part of my role I prepare the Light Up a Life dedication packs each year. I handwrite the name of the loved one that is being remembered in the dedication card. This is such an important task for me and I ensure each one is written perfectly as I know how much this would mean to me if I were receiving it.
When the Hospice introduced their Memory Tree, I dedicated a leaf on the tree to my beautiful Viv. Every time I come in I say good morning and give her a nod as I walk past the tree. Being at Overgate makes me feel connected to her and even when things are hectic and busy in the fundraising office, I always know why I give up my time for this special place – for Viv and so that other families have access to the same wonderful care that she received. I’ll continue to be here at my desk, supporting the team, for as long as I am able.