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In 2013, David Lawton’s life changed dramatically when he suffered a cardiac arrest during a ceremony in which his son was being recognised for his service in Afghanistan.
Army medics rushed to his aid and resuscitated him before using a defibrillator to keep his heart pumping. He was placed into an induced coma for two weeks and now relies on an ICD implant to keep him alive.
Lucky to survive the terrifying ordeal, he has lived with heart failure ever since and is now adjusting to a different challenge following the outbreak of the pandemic.
It’s been a difficult year for the 73-year-old but being invited along to Ashgate Hospicecare’s Virtual Day Hospice has certainly been a highlight.
He’d never accessed the hospice’s services before the lockdown started but has enjoyed making friends at the weekly coffee and quiz events and testing out his art abilities at the activity sessions.
David, from Hayfield, in High Peak, said: “A local heart specialist nurse put me in touch with Ashgate via my doctor, she asked me if I’d like to try out the Virtual Day Hospice services, so I thought I’d give it a go.
“It’s nice to have friendly people to speak with; they’re people who are on the same level as me with regards to their ailments. We can have a laugh and a joke, doing the art and that.
“I’ve enjoyed the coffee and quiz and art sessions too. There’s lots of useful information you pick up on and everyone shares their experiences.
“It’s all helped and given me something to do which isn’t too strenuous at this moment in time.”
Like many of those who use Ashgate’s services, David is at increased risk of developing severe symptoms should he be infected by Covid-19.
To reduce his chances of catching the virus, he has rarely left his house since last March, which means he’s been unable to give his beloved grandchildren a hug.
But Ashgate’s Virtual Day Hospice services give him something to look forward to each week and allow him to stay connected with other people in a similar situation to his own.
He adds: “I’ve found it to be interesting and very entertaining and it’s stopped me from going round the bend because I’ve had something to look forward to!
“To be honest I thought a hospice was somewhere where people just went to die but it’s not the case, it’s much more than that.
“I would recommend the services of Ashgate to anyone because it is a big help. You can find out so much useful information with the people and services that are made available to you.
“You can always ring them up and ask them about something. It really is a great thing and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be involved with it.”
The Virtual Day Hospice initiative was made possible thanks to a £78,606 from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund in partnership with the National Lottery Community Fund.