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Karen is urging people to support Ashgate Hospice’s Forget-Me-Not Appeal this summer in memory of her dad, Tony, who was cared for by the hospice at the end of his life.
“Dad was a true force of nature. A man who stood for his community and his family, who didn’t understand the words ‘it’s not possible’.
“He never sat still and was always on the move physically and mentally! If he wasn’t up on the roof fixing a leak, he’d be in the garage fixing something or helping a neighbour.
“He met my mum, Elaine, at a party in the 60s, as teenagers. Dad thought she looked just like Audrey Hepburn, and mum said that he was the most handsome man she had ever seen.
“It was the beginning of a lifelong love. They celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary in September 2021, shortly before his passing.”
Tony Jackson was diagnosed with a rare form of MND in November of 2020. Karen describes the difficulty in getting a diagnosis, despite his symptoms being apparent.
“Life was changing months before diagnosis, even when we spoke to the Doctors, we knew it would be a difficult journey. The prognosis meant Dad would only have months, rather than years and it was truly heart-breaking as he lost his speech, his ability to swallow and move his hands.
“Our first stay with Ashgate was in Summer of 2021, to manage his symptoms. Both of my parents were fiercely independent, so getting used to carers over a relatively short period of time was trying, but the wonderful medical and nursing staff optimised his care, and Dad never lost his sense of humour and positivity.
“The physiotherapists took him for walks around the grounds, which he loved. We received regular home visits from the specialist Nurse and the Consultant, and through this we felt respected, looked after, and listened to.
“I especially remember the much-needed humour in the face of a terrifying disease. Ashgate made Dad feel as comfortable as he possibly could be.
“Dad passed away at Ashgate in December 2021. We weren’t there with him when he passed away – I had gone home for a rest, expecting to see him again the next day – so it was such a comfort to speak to the two wonderful nurses who were holding his hands for us.
“He charmed everyone with his bright smile and a cheeky twinkle in his eye. It’s been lovely for us to hear so many of the wonderful people who cared for Dad speak so fondly of him, as “Tony Trouble” – the nickname they had for him on the board in his room!
“The staff are special at Ashgate. They are skilled, compassionate, and open. I honestly do not know how we would have managed without them; we all have an increased respect for the work they do and the need for the specialised approach that is needed for people who are at very vulnerable stages of life.”