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The “fantastic” care a loving father received at Ashgate Hospice at the end of his life has prompted his wife to support the charity’s Light up a Life appeal this winter.
Keith Bennett, from Coal Aston, near Dronfield, died at the hospice’s Inpatient Unit this summer with his wife Lynn and their two sons by his bedside.
Doctors told him they had found cancer on one of his kidneys and in his lymph nodes in January 2022 following a scan.
Despite undergoing aggressive treatment and surgery, Keith’s cancer had spread across his body by April this year.
During two separate stays on the hospice’s ward, Lynn says the care “took a massive weight” off her shoulders, allowing her to focus on spending the vital time she had left with her husband.
As part of the Light up a Life appeal this year, sponsored by Harrold Lilleker & Sons Ltd, she has dedicated a star in Ashgate’s virtual night sky in tribute to Keith and will be taking part in the hospice’s poignant lantern procession and ceremony on Sunday 3rd December 2023.
Lynn, 58, who works as an admin assistant, said: “Although Keith wanted to be at home for his end of life care he became too poorly, and it was decided that Ashgate would be the best place for him to be.
“During his time there Keith felt safe and well cared for. The main aim of the doctors was to get his pain under control and that turned out easier said than done, but they persevered and did everything they could.
“Keith became popular with the nurses and healthcare assistants, and they enjoyed coming in to see his beloved Staffordshire Bull Terrier who was allowed in for visits. Everything about the care was just fantastic.”
The father-of-two, from Coal Aston, started receiving care at home from Ashgate Hospice’s Palliative Care Specialist Nurse Team months before receiving end of life care.
He had hoped to spend his final weeks and months at home, but when his condition deteriorated, he “reluctantly” accepted the hospice’s offer of being admitted to its Inpatient Unit.
“Keith wasn’t happy and made it clear he didn’t want to go to the hospice,” said Keith’s wife, Lynn. “His words were “the hospice is where you go to die”.
“Reluctantly he agreed to go, and this ended up feeling like a massive weight had been taken off our shoulders; we knew he was finally in the right place to be cared for.
“His first stay was for three weeks and when the time came for him to come home, he didn’t want to leave.
“He got on well with the catering staff as he would always request chips with every meal, regardless of whether they were on the menu! The volunteers always made sure his request was granted.”
Lynn says Keith “would help anyone” and always had a new project on the go – whether it was working on his vintage Triumph Stag or DIY jobs around the house.
The former BT manager was originally from Bromley by Bow in East London and moved closer to his family in Dronfield in 2003.
He was well-known in the community having taken up voluntary roles as a Scout Leader and a Community First Responder with East Midlands Ambulance Service.
After returning home following his first stay on the hospice’s Inpatient Unit, Keith’s condition worsened once more, and he returned to the ward weeks later.
This would be his final stay on the hospice’s ward before his death on 11th July, aged 63.
Lynn added: “Our family is so grateful for everything the hospice did for us earlier this year, so we wanted to support the Light up a Life Appeal in Keith’s memory.
“The hospice must raise £9 million a year to pay for its care so we hope by doing our bit it will mean the charity can continue being there for families like ours at such a difficult time.”
The hospice’s Light up a Life appeal aims to raise funds so future patients can access the same support Keith did when they need it most.
For a suggested donation of £25, supporters can dedicate a star in memory of someone special and attend the hospice’s lantern procession and ceremony at the hospice on Sunday 3rd December 2023.
Support the hospice’s Light up a Life appeal and dedicate a star in memory of your loved one.