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The “compassionate” and “inclusive” care an ambulance worker received at the end of his life has inspired his husband to take on Ashgate Hospice’s Sparkle Night Walk in his memory.
It was caring for patients whilst working for East Midlands Ambulance Service that would lead to Frank Bradley being diagnosed with stage four cancer.
Whilst attending to an emergency, hospital tests would go on to reveal that he had been living with the serious illness.
Despite undergoing intense chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatment, Frank, from Chesterfield, was told his condition could not be cured and was referred to the North Derbyshire hospice.
He died on Ashgate’s Inpatient Unit in April 2022, aged just 58, after receiving support at home from the hospice’s “amazing” Palliative Care Specialist Team in the months before.
Just four years prior, Frank had married his partner of 26 years, Martin, after the couple decided to wed several years after gay marriage was legalised in Britain.
Now, Martin is fundraising in his memory for the second year running as one of thousands taking on the hospice’s 10km Sparkle Night Walk on Saturday 1st July.
“Our life together was amazing,” said Martin, 61, a Customer Care Manager. “We got on so well and had so many holidays. We worked hard, so used to play hard!
“When we got married in 2018, we had no idea that Frank was ill; I remember being bluntly told that nothing could be done, and they said we would be referred to Ashgate for palliative care – that was a big shock for us.
“But the hospice was just amazing from the get-go. They were so supportive and made us more reassured than we could have imagined.
“The doctors, the nurses, the social workers – everyone – they just move heaven and earth and the focus is on that person, their comfort and their wellbeing.
“Every little bit of it was just so good – every single step of the way. They’re just truly special people.”
Martin says the staff at Ashgate “went above and beyond” anything he ever expected – from ensuring their final holiday in Lanzarote together was extra special to arranging a virtual stream so Frank would not miss the concert of his favourite band, Future Islands.
Not only was the community and Inpatient Unit care “incredible”, but Martin says he personally benefitted from financial aid and counselling and wellbeing support too.
Unfortunately, the couple had been at the receiving end of adverse reactions to their sexuality in the past, so to be warmly welcomed by the hospice “meant everything” to them.
“We were made to feel so significant that it wasn’t even acknowledged that we were gay,” added Martin.
“We were just treated normally, but I can think of a couple of experiences elsewhere where we’ve been made to feel completely uncomfortable.
“The hospice was so compassionate, so inclusive – it was just lovely.”
Martin, who raised £3,075 after taking on the fundraising walk as part of a team of 18 last year, will be joined by family and friends again this time on a night he expects to be “filled with a mixture of emotions”.
He is urging other people to join him so the hospice can be there to care for people like Frank in the future.
Martin added: “The Sparkle Night Walk is such a fun night and has an amazing atmosphere! It was very emotional at first for me but as we got going it started to become great fun.
“We even had photographs of Frank pinned on our back and when we were at the park in Hasland, someone came up to us and asked if he had been a paramedic because they’d been helped by him in the past. That was so special.
“I just felt incredibly proud that the whole team was walking in his memory. I would urge anyone thinking of signing up to just do it – it’s a great laugh and you’ll really enjoy it!”
Volunteers are also needed to help on the night to ensure the event runs as safely and smoothly as possible.
From being a marshal, helping on the car park, making hot drinks and more – the hospice needs more than 150 volunteers to help on the night.
Would you like to volunteer at Ashgate Hospice’s Sparkle Night Walk? To find out more email email@example.com or call 01246 567250.
Find out more about the Sparkle Night Walk and how you can get involved or sign up.