Our beautiful Lights of Love event gives people like Andrew, a chance to take time out of their busy Christmas preparations to reflect on and remember those who are no longer with us. The event is free to attend for everyone, whether their loved one was cared for by Willen Hospice or elsewhere. We kindly ask that you book a place which you can do here. If you are unable to attend but would like to donate, we would be extremely grateful. Thank you.
I met my wife Tricia in 1976. At the time, we both worked in a brand-new shopping centre in Brent Cross.
I was striving to get my first managerial role and Tricia was a telephonist. She was quite shy, quiet and really kind. Family meant the world to Tricia, and wherever she went, she always made new friends. We got married in 1977, the same year as the Silver Jubilee. Two years later, we swapped London’s fast pace of life for the Milton Keynes countryside to try and start a family together.
This wasn’t easy for us though; in the end, we adopted two beautiful babies, Lucia in 1987 and Tom in 1989. They were the joys of Tricia’s life. It felt like everything had come together – our lovely little family, everything we’d always wanted. Then in 2009, Tricia was diagnosed with cancer and things took a turn.
It wasn’t until quite some time after Tricia’s diagnosis that we needed Willen Hospice. On Tricia’s first visit, they helped drain her stomach in preparation for chemotherapy treatment. She stayed there overnight; the next morning, the first thing she told me about was the delicious breakfast they’d given her (I, on the other hand, was at home, anxious, so hadn’t eaten a thing!). Very quickly, it was clear to see that Tricia was in the best hands possible when she was at the Hospice.
The care and attention they gave us was just incredible. It was the little things – the way they always listened and made her feel valued – that made so much difference. The staff were so lovely, every day they’d come in with big smiles on their faces, chatting to us like we were old friends. They made us feel so at home – volunteers serving us tea, coffee, meals, kindness. Everything they did, they did with the utmost compassion.
Tricia absolutely loved going to the Hospice’s Wellbeing Centre every week. She’d have a lovely lunch, play Scrabble and chat with other patients that were all in the same boat. She was there, in a peaceful, comfortable place, having a load of fun! It also allowed me to get some respite – some time to spend at home to sort out the housework or relax.
And over the course of a year, Tricia went in and out of the Hospice, as well as getting some Willen at Home care. It wasn’t just all the medical bits – the treatments, symptom-management and so on, but the human, emotional support for the whole family that was so important to help us cope with everything. It became such a special place to us, that we even decided to renew our wedding vows there in early 2011.
On 24th January of that same year, Tricia said to me, “I think I’d like to go back into the Hospice.” She just felt so secure there. We phoned them and they got her in and settled. I had popped home to get lunch when they contacted me and said I needed to come back in right away. Tricia passed away peacefully that same afternoon.
Willen Hospice meant so much to Tricia that she got involved with some of their fundraising work. And since she passed away, her legacy has lived on through me. I’ve been volunteering at the Hospice for ten years now and I must say, it’s the easiest job I’ve done, because it’s a delight to be there. Throughout the years I’ve done different bits and bobs and made so many friends. And in recent years I’ve taken on the role of Father Christmas! (Shh, don’t tell anyone it’s me!). I first volunteered because it was my way of giving something back for everything the Hospice did for Tricia. Now I do it because I want other people to get the same wonderful experience we had.
I’ve been going to Lights of Love for years now. It gives me that dedicated time to remember Tricia and the other special people in my life that I’ve lost. It’s about honouring their memories, reflecting on happy times together; it’s such an important thing to do. This year I’ll be there again, with other local families, paying tribute to the amazing people no longer with us; I really hope you’ll be there too.
With many thanks, Andrew.
If you’ve felt moved by Andrew’s story, you can donate to our Lights of Love appeal here.
To register for our Lights of Love event, visit here.