Last updated: Tuesday, 24th October 2023
When Rebecca Gordon signed up to take part in the Santa Abseil, she knew it would be unlike any challenge she’d ever taken on before but a fitting way to pay tribute to her beloved husband, Kevin.
In July 2021, Kevin was diagnosed with MND and Rebecca immediately jumped into action so she could care for him at home.
“Kevin and I were soulmates. We both wanted him to stay at home throughout his illness, we wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Rebecca said. “My cousin who is like the brother I never had, converted the house so we could keep Kevin at home which meant so much to us. We were always happiest together at home and had some wonderful times there together as a family, even when Kevin was feeling unwell.
“As Kevin’s health deteriorated, he told me that he wanted to die at home surrounded by his family. Throughout his illness that’s what we’d planned to do but when his condition deteriorated, we were so lucky to have St Margaret’s there to support us.
“Kevin went into urinary retention and was admitted to the hospice’s In-Patient Unit so they could get his pain under control and give him the medication he needed. As soon as we arrived at the hospice, I knew we’d made the best choice for Kevin. Everyone was so nice to us. Whilst the nurses were admitting Kevin, there was someone talking to me too which was so lovely as I felt supported.
“I told the team about how I’d been sleeping next to Kevin on a makeshift bed on the floor at home so I could be close to him throughout his illness but that all we both really wanted was to have a cuddle. The nurses told us they’d arrange for Kevin and I to use one of their cuddle beds the following day and as soon as she said it, I burst into tears, it was so important to us to have that time together.
“I stayed at the hospice overnight and returned home the next day to pick up some clothes as I didn’t think I was going to stay. I picked up my son and we went back to the hospice, and they’d set everything up for us in the cuddle bed. Kevin’s favourite flower was roses and the nurses had been out in the garden and put a rose on my pillow on the bed and that meant the world to me. It was so precious. I found out later that Kevin had asked the nurses to do that for me and I think it was his way of saying goodbye.
“We stayed in the cuddle bed that night and Kevin started to deteriorate so I called my son and my daughter to come down so he could spend his last moments with his family. Kevin passed away shortly after that and it was so peaceful, he just slipped away.”
Rebecca said she will be ‘forever grateful’ for the support St Margaret’s gave her and Kevin in those final few days and it was this support that inspired her to want to do something to give back to the hospice.
“Kevin was so brave and always lived his life with his family at his heart’s centre. He was so proud of us always and made me promise I wouldn’t just exist after he had gone, that I would live my life and enjoy it the way we’d always done,” Rebecca said.
“The support the staff at St Margaret’s gave us for those 3 days basically saved everything for our family. I knew I wanted to say thank you to the hospice for the help they had given us, so I told the nurses to contact me if there were any opportunities to do some fundraising for the hospice.”
And, just a few weeks later that opportunity came along as Rebecca was asked if she’d like to take part in our Santa Abseil and she jumped at the chance.
“I immediately said yes! I didn’t really think about it, I just wanted to do something to say thank you to the hospice,” Rebecca said. “Kevin was scared of heights but still managed to take our daughter parasailing in Tunisia, so I wanted to conquer something like that and the abseil seemed perfect.”
Just five months after Kevin’s death, Rebecca and her son, Alex, bravely joined over 80 Santa’s and took part in a St Margaret’s fundraising first, abseiling down Cheddar Gorge to raise money to support hospice care. Rebecca says taking part in the abseil was ‘an amazing experience’ and she’d encourage others to take on the challenge for the hospice.
“I’d faced my greatest fear when I lost the love of my life, soI knew I could abseil down Cheddar Gorge.Alex and I decided to take on the challenge together in memory of his beloved Pa and we did it!” Rebecca said.
“Rainbows have always been significant to us, especially recently, and as we approached Cheddar Gorge on the day of the abseil, there was a perfect rainbow which hung right over the gorge where we were going to abseil. We all knew Kevin was with us and was laughing, saying we were really living, and he was proud of us.
“I felt excited the whole way down and was so proud when we reached the bottom. The whole family came to support us on the day and there was a great atmosphere. We went for a celebratory meal afterwards and raised a toast to Kevin. It felt great to tick something off my bucket list too. It was such a challenge. I knew I couldn’t run a marathon, but I could abseil down a gorge. It felt like a fittingly momentous thing to do in tribute to him, the challenge felt appropriate to the loss for us.
“Everyone took part in the abseil for different reasons and it was lovely to meet people and find out why they were supporting St Margaret’s. I now look back on the abseil with such a sense of pride and achievement. Sometimes I can’t quite believe I did it. I’d encourage anyone who is looking to take on an amazing challenge to take part in the abseil, it’s a wonderful experience which you won’t regret.”
Click here to book your place at the Santa Abseil