Bernadette is the latest in a line of extraordinary people from across Cornwall who have agreed to share their Cornwall Hospice Care stories over the next year to help encourage a better understanding of just what the Cornish charity does. The widow of Penzance based artist Victor Bramley, Bernadette features in a short film that reflects on her life with Victor and the care he received at St Julia’s Hospice in Hayle.

Bernadette is the second person to share her story, which culminated in the sad death of Victor at the hospice in June of this year. An original member of the St Ives Society of Artists, Victor moved to the county from Sheffield in 1959 and was well known and respected in West Cornwall. Bernadette talks of how they met, their years together and of the care shown to them both at the end of Victor’s life. They married in April but as Bernadette explains, their wedded life was short;

“On June 18th Victor was due to have a scan and a frank discussion about his disease. I was concerned that I was no longer able to care for Victor safely at home and following some phone calls by the consultant we were instructed to go straight to St. Julia’s Hospice. I was immensely relieved. I knew Victor would receive all the medical attention he needed. We were only at St. Julia’s for a short period. Victor died the next day.”

“The care and compassion was outstanding. I was able to stay with Victor and during the night if I had any concerns I simply rang the bell and he was attended to. The doctors and nurses spoke openly about Victor’s condition and what they were doing. When Victor died, the compassion and dignity continued. Alongside the professionalism was warmth. Victor and I were able to be “Victor and Bernadette” again while at the hospice, rather than patient and carer. I am very sad that Victor has died but I gain great comfort from the knowledge that he died in the safety and warmth of St. Julia’s.”

Dr Debbie Stevens, Cornwall Hospice Care Medical Director, says the personal stories are a powerful way of helping people to understand what Cornwall Hospice Care is all about;

“I’m obviously very proud of what we do but the experiences of people who we care for say a great deal more about our charity. As well as being very generous in her support of our project, Bernadette is able to explain how our nursing teams can take over the care allowing patients and their families to be themselves.”

“It costs millions to run our Cornish charity each year and with only a tiny grant from the health services (11%) we really need help to keep achieving everything we offer as the only palliative care service that operates 24/7 in Cornwall. And it’s not just about the hospices either. In a week we’ll directly touch the lives of 135 patients and their families both inside and outside of our two hospices. This will include seeing and treating three outpatients in our day case unit, one of our consultants will help five patients with difficult pain problems at a clinic at Treliske where we will also attend around 25 patients at three oncology clinics and review between 15 and 20 patients on the acute wards. We’ll also visit four patients at home or in a nursing home or community hospital, treat 40 Lymphoedema* patients and provide on-going education for 10 medical students and two doctors who are training to be GPs. On top of all this our specialist advice line, the only one available in Cornwall 24 hours a day, will take an average of 10 calls from other healthcare professionals.”

Cornwall Hospice Care will feature each of the stories on social media and on the charity’s website and hope others will be inspired to share their experiences and to support the charity.

You can hear Bernadette tell her story below:

If you have been touched by Bernadette's story and would like to help Cornwall Hospice Care, you can make a donation, hold a fundraising event, donate your unwanted items to our shops, join our weekly lottery or help by volunteering for the charity.