“The first contact our family had with St Margaret’s Hospice was when Tess volunteered at the shop in Langport. Tess was a happy, fun-loving person who was always smiling and always willing to help people. When she started helping out at the shop, we didn’t know that she was volunteering for the very place that would bring us so much comfort in the hard times to come.
In the four years since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Tess had been in and out of the hospital a lot for chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was very tough sometimes.
When the doctors said it was time to think about the hospice, Tess was quite happy to go to St Margaret’s. She was only 37 years old. Although we knew a bit about the charity thanks to Tess’s volunteering, we didn’t know what it would be like to go there as a patient. When we got to the hospice in Taunton, they couldn’t have been any more welcoming.
All the nurses were fantastic with Tess, and the help for all of us as a family was brilliant. I stayed with her on a fold-down bed in her room. Our sons, Macaulay, 19, and Benjamin, 16, spent a lot of time there too.
The catering team at the hospice were excellent. Tess always liked to have her cooked breakfast in the morning, and the boys and I often ate at the hospice too. It was the small things like eating together that the boys will remember.
Tess was at the hospice for about a month. We now have so many memories because the staff and volunteers went the extra mile to help us enjoy happy times as a family.
One thing Tess wanted to do before she died was to have a trip to the seaside with the boys. Two of the nurses, Anna and Kerry, came with us to Weston-super-Mare on their day off and we ate ice cream on the beach. We have those precious memories thanks to the people at St Margaret’s.
Because I had lost my wedding ring a few years earlier and had to get a new one, Ann, the Spiritual Care Coordinator, offered to give us a blessing. So one day we went to the Sanctuary, a quiet room at the hospice, and Ann blessed our marriage. That was another example of how the care we received went far beyond keeping Tess as comfortable as possible.
St Margaret’s will always be close to our hearts. Macaulay and Benjamin are now planning to raise funds for St Margaret ’s in memory of their mum. We knew the hospice was a charity but hadn’t realised that less than 20% of its funding comes from the NHS. We think it's so important that St Margaret’s is there for other families who need their help, so please support this Light up a Life appeal if you possibly can.”