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“My family’s memories of the hospice are not just ones of sadness; we had so many moments with Dad that will stay with us forever.”
Steve Waddoups spent his final five weeks on Ashgate Hospice’s Inpatient Unit after previously being cared for at home by the hospice in the months before his death, aged 65.
After successfully being treated for anaplastic thyroid cancer in 2017, the disease returned in 2020 and doctors gave him just six months to live.
Despite initially being apprehensive about visiting Ashgate, Steve accepted he needed help and his perception of hospice care would go on to change significantly.
His daughter, Claire Thompson, who is supporting the charity’s Light Up a Life appeal this winter, says the care her dad received before his death on 23rd June this year has been “exceptional”.
“I honestly don’t know how my parents would have coped without Ashgate Hospice,” said Claire, whose family are from Inkersall, Derbyshire.
“The care was first class; nothing was too much trouble – it was faultless. The staff are supportive, knowledgeable, they do as they promise and go above and beyond.
“I honestly felt like the care they were giving was as if Dad was their own family. I feel that they really got to know my dad and understood how to interact with him.”
Steve, who worked in Auto Windscreens in the Control Centre, had a very dry sense of humour and was well-loved by his family – from his wife Yvonne, son Mark to his mum Maureen, brother Geoff and great-grandchildren Izzy, Charlie and Chloe.
The thought of life without him was so difficult to comprehend but getting the opportunity to make special lasting memories meant everything to them.
Claire added: “I know it sounds strange but visiting my dad at Ashgate felt homely. I’d go in to see him, the nurses would have a chat with us and would always manage to put a smile on his face, even in his final days. They got to know our family and we got to know them.
“The environment at the hospice allowed for us to spend time together as a family. One night Dad and my brother had a lads’ night with a beer watching the football and we enjoyed getting lunch together from lovely Leigh in the café.
“In a place where there is every reason to feel sadness, the staff and volunteers try to help you find moments of comfort, joy and gratitude so you can focus on appreciating the time you have left together.”
Since her dad died several months ago, the hospice’s care has continued as Claire and her family have received counselling from the hospice’s Supportive Care team.
Now, she wants to give back and Claire’s family are supporting the charity’s Light Up a Life campaign this winter.
“I can’t believe how much Ashgate does for families,” said Claire. “The list of services goes way beyond what I expected. I thought a hospice was just a place to go to die.
“I didn’t feel afraid there like I thought I would; I felt safe, comfortable and knew my dad was in the best possible place imaginable for his condition.
“It’s because of this care that I wanted to support the charity’s Light Up a Life appeal – and I hope you will consider joining me to remember someone special and to help fund Ashgate’s vital care.”
At the new-look Light Up a Life event, Ashgate is inviting people to dedicate a special lantern to their loved ones which can be personalised and displayed at home.
There is also the option to join hundreds of others in a lantern procession to the hospice on the evening of Sunday 4th December.
Once at the hospice, everyone will all come together for a special remembrance event in the beautifully lit garden, where there will be time to reflect, as well as gentle music and refreshments.