Dedicated fundraiser Sally explains why she’s so determined to raise funds for Cornwall Hospice Care.

Sally co owns the famous Bowgie Inn at Crantock and has taken Cornwall Hospice Care under her wing, raising funds through charity treks and a series of special events at the pub. Since 2011 she’s raised a massive £22,296.52 to support our Cornish charity and our two hospices at Mount Edgcumbe in St Austell and St Julia’s in Hayle.

In this special film recorded as part of our year long #HospiceStories project Sally talks about how she got involved with Cornwall Hospice Care and why she feels so passionate about what we do.

Lollie's Story

Lollie Brewer is a nurse at St Julia’s Hospice in Hayle and ran in the 2017 London Marathon for Cornwall Hospice Care.  Here she speaks moments after completing Run Falmouth, a half marathon, which she did in a time of 2 hours and 26 minutes. She explains why she’s taking on the London event.

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Matt & Becca's Story

You can see Matt and Becca tell their story about their dad, John and their Christmas Day spent at the hospice, by clicking the banner above.  Below, Matt has written about their experience.

Matt’s story in his own words…

I spent most of my teenage life knowing that my Dad was terminally ill. He was diagnosed with his brain tumour when I was fourteen, four years ago, and when I heard about it I was understandably scared.  I didn’t know what to think or what to do.  I couldn’t fully comprehend what was going on and why it was happening to my family.  However, my Dad continually proved all the doctors wrong as he repeatedly defied all the odds and went into remission for long periods of time shortly after being given a short time to live.  However, the final time we could see that it was different.  He struggled to fight back and eventually went on to pass away.

In September of 2013 my Dad suffered a massive seizure at home, I was in the garden and was fortunate enough to be nearby and called my Mum down and we phoned the ambulance and got him on the floor. Whenever he had a seizure, which was uncommon, it was terrifying.  He went completely out of control of his body and rolled around on the ground making noises.  The ambulance crew came along and took him to Treliske, who swiftly shipped him back home after saying that there was nothing they could do.  We were in a worse position than we had been in before they took him in.  We had very little medical equipment with us and no care support for us.  We had essentially become carers to for him.  It was a horrific feeling to have to see someone that you grew up respecting and admiring in a place where they couldn’t do much for themselves.  After a few days a doctor was called out because he wasn’t coping at home.  We didn’t have any of the equipment or expertise that was needed to care for him.  The doctor said that he had to be readmitted to hospital.  A Macmillan nurse then gave my Mum the choice of either being readmitted to hospital or to enter into St Julia’s Hospice.  She then asked Rebecca and me to see what we wanted to happen.  We weren’t keen on the thought of him going back into the hospital that had sent him home after evidence of him being so horribly ill.  But at the time I didn’t have a clue of what the hospice actually did or what it was like so I was caught between a brick wall and a hard place.  I ended up saying that I was happy with whatever my Mum wanted to do, as I knew that she would do what was best for my Dad.  I can’t remember what my Sister had said, but I am sure she had the same feelings as me. So we decided that he should have been sent to the hospice.

“at the time I didn’t have a clue of what the hospice actually did or what it was like

My Mum tried to explain what the hospice did, but she kept emphasising too much that it wasn’t a place that people went to die.  This then led me to believe that it actually was a place where people went when there was no more time for them, and that my Dad was going to go.  It was a horrendous feeling when we were driving up to see him in the hospice the first time.  I was worried that it would be quiet and full of grumpy nurses that would limit our time with him and make it difficult to be a family.  But as we pulled up the driveway and into the hospice car park, it was quite pleasant.  There was a small walkway filled with flowers and a lavender plant on the right hand side.  It was a relaxing feeling walking up there, but there was still a small sense of foreboding lying deep in my heart.  I thought that even if it looked nice on the outside, the inside would be completely void of all of the niceties of the outside.

Before I go on to the next part, I have to say that my family are extremely close and that we were used to smiling and laughing with each other.  However, because of my Father’s dire condition whenever my Mum smiled, it was broken and shallow and shortly followed by tears.  So I had partially forgotten what a true smile was.

So as we walked in through the doors of the hospice to see Colin, one of the volunteers, grinning from ear to ear I really didn’t know what to think.  He greeted me and my Sister, Rebecca, by name. “You two must be Becca and Matt!”  He gave us a short tour of the hospice and showed us everything we needed and told us that if there was anything we needed just ring the bell.  Then we went to see my Dad.  At home he had been in a great amount of pain and wasn’t himself.  At the hospice he still wasn’t completely him, but he wasn’t in anywhere near the same amount of pain and managed to show that it was still him and he was still our Dad.  We were released from being carers and back to being his kids.

“When me and Rebecca drove up every day to see my Dad we used to get to a certain part of Hayle and said “Hospice, sweet hospice” because it had become a second home.

Over time we learnt all of the staff’s names and we became good friends with all of them.  We were back to our silly ways and were allowed to muck around and make each other laugh and slide down the corridors in our socks.  When me and Rebecca drove up every day to see my Dad we used to get to a certain part of Hayle and said “Hospice, sweet hospice” because it had become a second home.  We were there more than we were at home, and if I am honest I felt more comfortable there than I did at home.  It was the feeling of security for my Dad that made me feel safe.  I knew that as soon as I pressed the buzzer there would be a group of nurses and carers ready to look after him.  And even if it was just a small thing then we could buzz them in.  The doctor’s had told us that the buzzer was as much for the families as for the patient.  We played around with the nurses and made paper aeroplanes to throw down the corridor.  It might seem childish or silly, but it had meaning behind it for one of the nurses and she told us a personal story that helped us to connect to her with them.  And in reality we needed to be reminded that we were just children and that we were allowed to have fun.  It got to a point that we felt so comfortable that we ended up having me put on Rebecca’s make-up for her and her crying with laughter and rocking the whole hospice with our family’s laughter.

“rocking the whole hospice with our family’s laughter

My Dad and I also had our own, more personal, memories inside that room.  I stayed up late with my Dad and my Mum and Sister left so that we could have some time together alone.  We watched films together and he would fall asleep in the middle of them and then continue it the next day.  We joked about how terrible the plot holes were and picked flaws in everything.  But we were allowed to be ourselves and as noisy as we liked, as long as we didn’t disturb other people.  We made some incredible memories in that room.

At one point, just two or three weeks before Christmas, we were told he wouldn’t make it until Christmas, let alone the end of the year.  So we did everything my Dad wanted to do.  At one point he wanted to have a week of just takeaways.  As much as this might sound nice, it had driven me to the point where I was craving a lettuce leaf.  The hospice staff helped us out with it as much as possible.  They got plates ready for us, they recommended the good places to eat and allowed my Dad to have a glass of beer or cider to go with his meal!

When it got to Christmas, which my Sister and I were dreading, we headed down to the hospice first thing.  All of the presents were there to open with my Dad lying in bed with that smile of him.  Then one of the staff told us how everyone in the hospice woke him up by going in to see him and telling him it was Christmas.  They all wanted to see his face when he woke up and they said it was completely worth it. They described the biggest smile possible stretching across his face.  After that we opened our presents and spent the day as a family.  At lunch they called us in to the room at the bottom of the corridor.  My Dad walked all the way, which was the furthest he had walked in a long time. When we got there, there was a small table with four place mats set out with crackers and wine glasses and everything ready for a Sunday lunch.  Two of the nurses were stood outside the room with grins across their faces.  They knew how much it meant to us to have that and set it up with music playing in the background.  The food, as per usual in the hospice, was gorgeous and we enjoyed it and the company of each other for our last Christmas together.

Whilst a lot of the time we spent in the hospice was lovely, there were still times that we had to be serious. Times where my Dad deteriorated and he nearly passed away.  This happened several times and each time the hospice staff respected our feelings as a family and always ran everything through us all.  If we wanted to know exactly what was happening then we could.  They cared for him so incredibly well.  I don’t know how they managed it but they got him to walk, very shakily, but still walk up and down the corridor.  And despite the massive, awful things happening inside my Dad’s head they managed to keep some fragment of him in there.  He still managed to retain the knowledge of us, most of his memories and the fact that he loved us.  He told us it nearly every day he could and he always hugged us and gave us a huge smile whenever we came in to see him.  They kept my Dad, not just alive, but they kept his mind intact as well.

“My family and I gave her the nickname “Hospice Mum” because she fussed over me so much.

Eventually they deemed my Dad well enough to go home for a while.  We knew he wasn’t completely healed, but they gave us the medical, and emotional, support to get him home and allowed us to feel safe with him there.  He was home for short periods of time at first, with him coming home for an evening here, a day there.

And then it came to my birthday and he came home for the whole day then (see above).  We had all of the family around and it was awesome.  My Dad was alive and home for my 18th birthday.  Then he got to a point that he was stable enough to sleep at home.  They helped to get a proper bed for him downstairs and everything else he needed.  They packed us with as much medicine and drugs and equipment that would make us feel safe and said there was always a bed waiting back at the hospice if he needed it.  He came home and stayed for about 2 weeks.  He had all the care he needed and we were almost like a proper family again.  We were able to eat around the table and joke around like we used to.  But the time of prosperity at home passed when he suffered another seizure.  He was eventually taken in to a nursing home because the hospice was full.  It was a nice place, but the numbers weren’t up to the care that I felt completely comfortable with.  They dealt with him excellently and they were so good with us.  But they didn’t have the time to know us like the hospice staff did.  One of the hospice staff, on her few days off, even came over to see us all at the care home.  He stayed there for a week before the hospice found space for him.

“despite the massive, awful things happening inside my Dad’s head they managed to keep some fragment of him in there.

On the last week of his life, I went up to see him every morning, by myself, just to see him and see how he was doing that day.  He wasn’t always conscious by that point, and if he was then he wasn’t always making sense.  But he was there and he was alive and he was happy to see me.  I eventually had to leave him to go to Sixth Form, but not before I had a talk with the sister of the hospice.  She would ask me if I had packed my bag, had breakfast and cleaned my teeth.  My family and I gave her the nickname “Hospice Mum” because she fussed over me so much.  Then I would return in the afternoon to see him again. He would usually be more awake than in the morning and would be able to talk more.

Two days before he passed away, it was just me and my Dad again in the morning.  The nurses had just left to give me and him some privacy.  He was sleeping and I recounted some memories to him, all of the concerts we went to, the Olympics we went to together and the holidays we went on together.  Pete, the cleaner passed the room to see me talking to my Dad.  He knew that it was near the end for him and started saying about how lovely it was that we had those memories together, and I told him about my Dad and everything we had done together and we just spoke for a while.  Even though he was “just a cleaner” he reassured me and made me feel proud of what we had done together.  He seemed to be a calm voice throughout all of the horrid chaos that was going on around me.  Then I looked around and saw the other nurses and carers and they were the same.  They cared for us and were there for all of us.  They dealt with his symptoms and I even managed to get one last hug from him that day, despite him being unconscious and basically unresponsive all day.

The day that he finally passed away, we were told by one of the nurses to come down to the hospice as something had changed.  We were used to leaving in a hurry by now and were out of bed and then the door in about 15 minutes.  We got down there and we could tell that he was going that day.  The head doctor of the hospice came in and confirmed that and we were, understandably, devastated.  The way he was going to die was going to be messy and undignified.  But they somehow managed to allow him to keep his dignity throughout the day.  He was treated with the same respect as he was the day he went in.  The hospice was quieter and it seemed sadder at first.  But as the day went on, we came back with our usual cheerfulness, telling stories about him doing something silly.  The nurses that stayed with us throughout the whole thing were laughing along and telling their own personal stories of him.  When their shift ended or something big came up, they would swap out with the other nurses and would tell us how much they thought and cared for him.  Some of them looked visually upset, but we thought that that was the right thing to do and it was sweet of them to care so much.  It took all day for him to go and we had most of the family that live nearby and were able to come down to see him.  It was emotional and difficult, but everyone supported everyone.  In the evening he passed and we were all holding each other and supporting each other.  We all cried together, and the nurses that were there at the time cried with us. They hugged us and allowed us our time to ourselves.  Then everyone left for me to have my time with him before we left.  I stayed there for a long time with him just to say my final goodbye.  The nurses were respectful and let me have all the time I needed and every so often would check up on me just to make sure I was dealing okay and if I needed anything they offered to get it.  All the way to the end they treated us respectfully and with care.

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Iceland 7's Story

The next chapter in our ‪#‎HospiceStories‬ project. Our team of Cornwall Hospice Care trekkers: The ‘Iceland 7’ took on the once in a lifetime adventure across the vast lava fields, glaciers and volcanoes of Iceland, all in support of our special Cornish charity.

In partnership with the highly professional Expedition Wise (specialists in organising charity challenges) a team of seven trekkers took on the Iceland challenge in July 2015.  Over the past four years overseas challenges such as this have raised over £400,000 for our Cornish charity which is a fantastic contribution to the funds we need to continue our services. Our charity relies heavily on the generosity of the general public for the majority of its income, and challenges such as this are a vital source of income.

Iceland is home to vast lava fields containing volcanoes (many still active), glistening glaciers, spouting geysers, hot springs and waterfalls. This once in a lifetime experience saw our trekkers covering lunar-like terrain and in addition to their daily treks  also setting up camp each night, of which a couple of them had never camped before!

Watch the documentary below to see first hand the challenging experiences that our 7 trekkers encountered

#HospiceStories

#ChallengeYourself

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Becca's Story

Cornwall has always been the place that amazed me so much as a child and even now. Living in a city not far from London, I’m not used to sea views, beautiful fresh air and people making more time to speak to you when walking along the street. That’s why it’s one of my favourite places in the world. Travelling down to Cornwall was always an exciting time for us as kids, especially knowing that we would see my Auntie Sue, and Cousins Sam and Jamie.

Sue was my mum’s sister, and moved to Cornwall to start a family. As kids we went down perhaps once every year, and visited, spending time on the beaches and generally spending so much time outdoors. It is a time that brings back lots of fond memories!

Unfortunately Sue was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012 and had to undergo lots of treatment to try and fight it. Although at first the radio therapy helped, eventually the cancer spread to other areas of Sue’s body. This was such a tough time for her, as she kept on fighting and fighting and never gave up. Sometimes you could see just how much she was struggling, and she would still worry about everyone else and make sure they were comfortable, before considering herself. This was just the kind of person that Sue was.

During the times when she could not control the pain, she was fortunately able to use the services of Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in St Austell. She stayed numerous times over the two years, and each time she could be in there either for a few days or a couple of weeks, and the staff and volunteers all helped her regain strength, get her pain under control and get her comfortable enough to go home.

Not long after Sue’s diagnosis we were told that she had been admitted into the hospice. Being 300 miles away and not knowing much about hospices, this frightened the life out of me and my family. With no previous experiences of a hospice, I instantly thought that Sue had gone into the hospice because she was going to die. . My imagination ran wild thinking about what to expect when I first walked in, and nothing could have prepared me for what I first experienced. Sue was comfortable, enjoying watching all the birds in the beautiful garden, visiting the little shop and buying little bracelets and necklaces, and generally seemed really well, all things considered. It was such a big relief to see her this way, and when she was admitted different times over the next 2 years I knew she was in the best place possible to care for her!

Because of all the fantastic care Sue had received, I decided that I wanted to do something to raise money for such a fantastic charity. I n May 2013 I decided to sign up for the Trek China challenge, trekking across the Great Wall of China all in aid of CHC. It was something that was well out of my comfort zone, and I didn’t even think I would be able to complete, but having Sue as a motivation I did it.
Whilst my fundraising had begun, unfortunately Sue’s fight was coming to an end. She became very ill, and spent her last week in the comfort of Mount Edgcumbe hospice, surrounded by her family and friends. She stayed positive and fought until the very end. In what was a very tragic and grief stricken time for all my family, one thing helped me through the grief. I continued to fundraise, and train and kept in my mind exactly what I was doing it for, which spurred me on constantly, that I wanted people to continue getting the fantastic care that Sue had received.

Eventually I hit my fundraising target, and before I knew it I was on a plane to Beijing! The challenge was probably one of the greatest experience of my life. I met some absolutely inspirational people, and pushed myself to limits that I never thought possible. Although very challenging it was also so rewarding, especially hearing other peoples reasons behind doing the challenge and thinking about how much money we had raised together as a group!

Sue’s death is something that will stay with me every day of my life, and I will never not miss her, however being able to take part in this challenge gave me a very positive experience out of a negative situation.
I can never ever repay back the hospice for how they treated and cared for Sue, and I will always feel indebted to the nurses, doctors and volunteers that kept smiling and being some of the most kind and compassionate people I have ever met. But I certainly feel like the challenge gave me a good way of showing my gratitude.

If you are thinking about doing a challenge but aren’t sure, I just hope that my story can push you in the right direction to making the decision, because it was the best thing I have ever done, for such a worthy cause!

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Graham's Story

Legacies are vital to our charity; gifts in Wills help fund 5 out of the 16 intensive care beds that Cornwall Hospice Care has each year.  With support we could increase that to 12 months so that’s why Make A Will Week is so important.  Solicitors across Cornwall offer their time free of charge but rather than charging the usual fee, the solicitors ask for a donation to Cornwall Hospice Care.  

So why choose us? Graham’s Mum, Lilian Cross, was a patient at Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in 2002. This is his story in his own words:

When my mother, Lilian was first diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus some 15 years ago I didn’t understand.  She and Dad, (Brian), simply said a “polyp” had been found in her food pipe.  The dreadful “C word” was not uttered at all.  Perhaps they wanted to protect us, or simply did not realise the gravity of Mum’s condition, although looking back I think she knew exactly what it meant and was protecting Dad from the difficult truth of what lay ahead.  They were childhood sweethearts and he was the love of her life, her soul mate with whom she had travelled the world, raised a family and had many an adventure.

“He never forgot the professionalism and kindness of Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in providing a caring environment for Lilian’s
last valuable moments with us. ”

It was only later after further tests and a biopsy that the reality of Mum’s condition became clear to me, and seeing her physically change as she endured the long battle against the cancer brought it all home.

She had major surgery at Plymouth to remove the cancer and reconstruct her stomach and food pipe.  I spent hours sitting alongside Dad in the canteen while Mum was resting and realised he was still not completely au-fait with what was happening.  I seized an opportunity to collar the surgeon on his rounds and had him explain to me in layman’s terms Mum’s post op chances.  He sketched a diagram on the back of a napkin, which I later used to gently explain the facts to Dad.  It was not good.  The op was a success but the cancer was at an advanced stage and we knew it might return.

Mum recovered pretty well all things considered over the next year or so.  She was a “trooper”.  My kids were toddlers at the time and so she had a lovely time savouring every precious moment with them.

Then the cancer was back.  It was in Mum’s lymphatic system spreading throughout her body.  I recall the desperation of my father as he wailed back at me one night “THERE IS NO HOPE!”  But she declined more chemo or intrusive surgery.  She wanted to let things progress naturally and enjoy her remaining time with us all as comfortably as possible.  She seemed at peace, but we felt despondent and lost.

We wanted the best for Mum in her final months and she moved over to the care of Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in St Austell.  The staff could not do enough for us.  They were so supportive and genuine when everything seemed so negative.  We even got to spring her out a few times for lunch and walks above Fowey estuary.

The hospice staff prepared us for what lay ahead, which although awful to confront, made it easier when it came.  Mum never felt any pain thanks to their constant attentive care.

Finally she slipped into a coma.  In her room at Mount Edgcumbe we still sat with her, talked to her, held her hand, brushed her hair, read to her, and drank endless tea.  Right up to the end I was able to slumber in an armchair alongside her all night if I wanted.  I knew she was leaving us but I could not let her go.  Then one night I went home with Dad, so he was not alone.  In the early hours I awoke to the phone ringing.  It was Mount Edgcumbe calling.  I went through to his bedroom and he quietly said; “She’s away.”  That was June 12th 2002.  Seems like yesterday.

“He changed his Last Will and Testament to leave a sizeable legacy to Cornwall Hospice Care in order to contribute in
any way he could to help ensure their care continues for others.”

Despite his own health failing Dad lived for another twelve years until the 2nd August 2013.  He was surrounded by memories of a lifetime with Lilian; he kept 70 years of love letters and mementos from hotel brochures to birthday cards.  He never forgot the professionalism and kindness of Mount Edgcumbe Hospice in providing a caring environment for Lilian’s last valuable moments with us.  He changed his Last Will and Testament to leave a sizeable legacy to Cornwall Hospice Care in order to contribute in any way he could to help ensure their care continues for others.

“He was surrounded by memories of a lifetime with Lilian; he kept 70 years of love letters and mementos from hotel brochures to birthday cards. ”

I am sure that Brian and Lilian are looking over my shoulder as I type this and would say it was worth every penny.  If Graham’s story has made you think about your legacy and would like more information, please contact our Legacies, Trusts & Grants Officer, Debbie Henshaw on 01726 66868 (option 2) or email dhenshaw@cornwallhospice.co.uk.

All photographs courtesy of the Cross family.

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George's Story

I hate running.  I benefit from no catharsis, spiritual enlightenment or sense of great physical well-being by dragging my ungainly limbs over a great distance.  Running is a joyless and personally thankless task.  It makes me sore, irritable and ravenous.  Among these generally undesirable attributes I have, one reigns supreme: sheer, bloody stubbornness.

To cut a long story short, I went for a run one day a year or so ago and found myself wheezing and ruined after a few ponderous miles.  My body simply refused to co-operate.  Well, I thought, I’ll be damned if I let this lousy mass of limbs dictate what I can and cannot do. So, in a Jekyll-and-Hyde-ish manner, I started running.

The body says “no.” The head says “Oh, yes you will, so help me…”

The reason I say all of this is because I think my bullish and stupid insistence on not letting my body have the last word comes from my Grandma.  A loving and wonderful woman.  Generous, funny and kind. However, she also possessed what could (in the most generous way I’m capable of) be described as a ‘hot head.’

She didn’t take kindly to being told she was wrong on anything.  Nor did she allow retirement to slow her pace: there was no chance she’d let old age have the final say. I grew up watching her live her life with an iron will.  It’s for this reason that her illness came as such a blow to both her and the people who knew her.

Watching cancer slowly extinguish a fire as hot as hers was something I hoped I would never have to see.  But it is a cruel and merciless disease, which sadly cut her life short in its late prime.

As a society, we are fortunate that so much has been done to improve the treatment of long-term and terminal conditions.  The sad fact, though, is that these illnesses still take thousands upon thousands of loved ones each year.  Knowing that this all has an end is never easy to come to terms with, mostly because those facing it lack any say in the matter.  But this does not mean that there must be suffering.

My Grandma spent the end of her life in Mount Edgcumbe Hospice; one of two run by Cornwall Hospice Care.  She received an enormous amount of care, attention and, in the end, passed peacefully and without pain.  I will never be able to fully thank Cornwall Hospice Care for what they did, but I can certainly try to make sure that they are able to do the same for others and I am doing my bit by running in the London Marathon.

Thank You.

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Jon & Jasmine's Story

For about a month the song I wrote for Kim was absolutely everything.  It let so many emotions out.  I talked to people I wouldn’t normally have spoken to about it because now you’re talking about the song and not Kim going.

I was working in a shop back in Sussex.  Kim came in as a customer and I got her to come back in by selling her some stuff she didn’t need, she ticked all my boxes.  When I met her she had horses, horses absolutely ruled her life. At that point her Mum and Dad had a little small holding and were moving out to a place with no land and everything had to go, and Kim just drew a line underneath it and she never looked back.  She was someone who always looked to tomorrow.  She never looked back over her shoulder and was never sad about anything.  She was the most practical person, she’d knock up by hand, through a hand mixer, six or seven tons of concrete in a day then she’d put her smart togs on in the evening and look a million dollars.  A really, really great person to be with.  We fitted together well.

Kim went downhill really quickly and she went in to the hospice originally, just for pain relief.  The hospice went from being the scariest word you could hear in the world, to being something that was just safe. Safe is the word that you most feel.

Kim’s cancer went to her brain and she ended up in the hospital for a while.  It never stops there, all night and all day, it just never stops. When we went back to the hospice it was like getting back to the safest and most peaceful place you can imagine.

The other big thing for me was that Jasmine could go to the hospice so we could be a family in Kim’s room, and having the dog there makes such a tremendous amount of difference.

Now Jasmine gets me out and about.  It seems a pain because you do have to get up in the morning and you do have to let her out.  I didn’t want to but it’s really strange, gradually you go down to the beach and there comes a day when you’re chucking a ball for her and your chuckling a little bit because of something she’s doing or something somebody else has said. Then the day comes when you’re actually laughing quite a lot and then the day arrives when you go down there and you come back and think you’ve had a bloomin’ good day today and you’ve smiled all the time.  It doesn’t stick, you go backwards and forwards all the time, but Jasmine is always there.

On the 16th of November 2014 I woke in the middle of the night from a dream about a poem.  My dreams are normally vague and go the same way as most peoples, forgotten by the morning, but for some reason that night, while still half asleep, I picked up my phone and recited it to the recorder app.  In the morning I wasn’t sure if I’d dreamt the whole thing but there it was, recorded at 3.12am.  Apart from one or two words that didn’t quite work it was exactly as it reads on the poem page of my website at www.songforkim.co.uk

It was such a strange and moving thing to happen that it got me wondering how I might put it to some use.  My first thoughts were that perhaps I might raise a few pounds for Mount Edgcumbe Hospice who cared so wonderfully for Kim during her last days, maybe by framing it up and selling a copy or two.  I’d been pondering on this for a while when I woke on the morning of the 22nd vaguely remembering that I’d recorded another dream during the night and there it was, 3.15am, two verses of a song!

Over the next few days I was visiting friends in Sussex (I live in North Cornwall) and the whole time I was away I was mulling over what I was meant do with a two verse song and a poem.  I’d never had anything like it happen before.  During the long drive back, I was listening to Ed Sheeran’s Afire Love and realised that the rhythm to that song worked perfectly with both the verses and most lines of the poem, so from then on they became one and by the time I got home I had Kim’s song in my head.

Like a lot of blokes of a certain age, I’ve fancied myself as a bit of a singer guitarist from time to time and at one point years ago, went as far as buying a microphone and a few bits and bobs which had been gathering dust since about five minutes after coming out of the Amazon box.  That afternoon it seemed really important to get the whole thing recorded as best I could while it was clear in my mind so I dug everything out, battled with the software, and by half past two in the morning I had a rough and ready recording.  I even copied it to a CD, I think just to see if I could remember how.   I’d done what I wanted, at least now if the song went from my mind I had a record of it.  But I went to bed that night thinking that the next day I would see if I could find a local studio where I could get a more polished version that might sell a few copies for the hospice.  I’ve often chuckled at “artists” saying the creative process is exhausting; ‘try laying concrete blocks all day’ I’d think.  That night I was as emotionally shattered as I’ve ever been.   Sobbing listening to something you’ve just sung is a very strange experience.  It seemed to release something in me.

My house had been on the market for a couple of weeks and I had a viewing later that day so my plan was to get up and go for a swim, find a studio and then tidy up.  I slept clean through the alarm and therefore my swim, and woke to a phone call from the Estate Agents asking if my viewers could come a couple of hours earlier, so the search for a studio didn’t happen either. While I was tidying, I got to the bedroom with all my recording clutter still out and thought; ‘what the heck, I’ll leave it’. Odd, as normally for a viewing I’d have the place just so.

My couple arrived and introduced themselves as Jacquie and Jo, and as I’d done on the previous couple of viewings, to save any awkward moments, I told them right away that the reason the house was on the market was because Kim had passed away and as I wasn’t going to carry on with the B and B we’d been running, I was looking for something smaller.  While they were looking round Jo noticed an ancient and unplayable old twelve string guitar in one of the rooms.  That got us chatting about music in general and he mentioned he did a bit of session work and that Jacquie was “an average backing singer” at which point she pretended to thump him!  I think we hit it off pretty well straight away.

When we got to the room with the signs of the previous night’s endeavours, they got curious about what I’d been doing, so I told them about the dreams and the song.  I’m quite shy when it comes to my efforts on the guitar and pretty much only sing in the shower or car, but I heard myself saying, “I’ve put it on CD if you’d like to hear it?” I still don’t understand why but I know immediately I regretted it.  Oh well, perhaps they’d forget.

But they didn’t.  While we had a coffee Jo said how about playing your recording for us.  I’d gathered from chatting that Jo’s playing was almost certainly in a different league to mine, but I’d offered so we went into the living room and they listened.  All of a sudden it sounded so very amateurish, but when it had finished they were quiet for moment.   It was all quite surreal.  I think Jacquie was crying and Jo said something along the lines that it really resonated and if someone came into his recording studio with that he’d be thrilled.

Studio??!

To say they were enthusiastic about the whole song, story, fundraising thing, would be an understatement and while we finished looking round we talked about virtually nothing else.  It gave me a big confidence boost.  As they were leaving they said if there was anything whatsoever they could do to help get Kim’s song out there, they would be only too happy to help, just look up Jo Meacham on the web to get in contact.

Which is what I did the minute they’d gone. This is Jo’s biography and here’s Jacquie’s. Not just any old session musician and definitely not an average backing singer!  I know it’s a cliché but I was blown away.  Here were two people who definitely knew more than a thing or two about music who really liked Kim’s song.  When the estate agent rang a few days later to say that although the Meacham’s wouldn’t be buying the house, they had really enjoyed their visit and loved my music and would like to be involved, I knew they’d meant what they’d said.

Over the next few days I persevered at home trying to get a recording I was happy with, but I was struggling, it’s a bit of a steep learning curve in the digital age so I rang Jo for some advice on finding a local studio.  He said it was a shame I was such a long way away as it would be great to record it at his studio and that’s how I ended up driving to Newbury to sing and play in a proper studio.  It was a totally new experience and Jacquie and Jo were kindness itself.  I will be for ever grateful for their generosity and enthusiasm but as it turned out, the recording we did there wasn’t to be the final one.  I was so intent on singing and playing accurately that day that, although it’s a beautiful clear recording, the emotion seemed to have gone.  So I set to at home to try to learn how to use all this gear I’d bought years before and the results are on my download page.  It’s far from perfect but I guess there comes a time when you have to say, that’s as good as I can do at the moment. I hope you like it.

To download a copy and support Cornwall Hospice Care please visit www.songforkim.co.uk

Keith's Story

Keith (the Oggy Man’s) story…..

I was born in Penryn, at Bissom on the way to Mylor, born at home.  I’m very, very proud, very proud indeed to be Cornish. God’s country I do call it.

We used to go rugby and I always used to do an ‘Oggy Oggy Oggy’ and people said; ‘Oggy man, goin’ to do an Oggy are ee?’ and I’d say ‘yea’. I’ll carry on doing it, I just love doing it and people expect it now, especially at the end of the singing of Trelawney!

My late wife was Margaret, I’ve known her since I was 11, and we had our first official date on 1st May 1955.  We went down to Gyllyngvase Beach. I think we just had a wonder across the beach holding hands like you do and suddenly I thought; ‘I’m going to marry you’, and I did. We used to enjoy rugby together and we enjoyed concerts together, we also enjoyed going to church together. She was the nicest person and the bravest person I’ve ever come across to be honest.

Margaret became ill in 2009 and eventually they took her in to Treliske and she had a bone scan and the specialist come in said; ‘I’m very sorry to tell you but she’s got bone cancer’.  So we all had a few tears and then Margaret woke up and she could see we were a bit upset. She said; ‘What’s the matter, have I got bone cancer?’  So we said yes, and I said sorry me luvver.  ‘Oh’, she said, ‘what’s for tea?’ – that was Margaret for you.  And then from there she was taken down to St Julia’s Hospice.

A day or so after she got down there, the Doctor came round and he said; ’Well Margaret now you’re here, how do you feel?’  And she said something that really stuck with me. She said I feel safe.  And I must be honest and say St Julia’s was absolutely fantastic.  Not only to Margaret, but to the whole family.  I mean we could stay down there if we wanted to, it was absolutely brilliant and she was cared for so beautifully, we couldn’t have asked for more.  It helped, that kindness and knowing Margaret felt safe and that we could be together in one special place.

She planned all her own funeral.  She said; ‘I want What a Friend We Have in Jesus’, I want Oh For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, I want a Cornish flag on my coffin and I want you to do another thing for me – I want you to do a concert in my memory and all the money is to go to the hospices.’

Well it was a brilliant concert, absolutely brilliant and we raised £3,515.50 – she would have been over the moon, she would have been thrilled to bits.  That’s an ‘ansome sum for Cornwall Hospice Care.  A big lump comes to my throat, especially when the choir sings ‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Miserables, but I’m having that at my funeral as well.  Well you’ve got to plan for these things, my kids know exactly what I want.

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David's Story

David Renwick is well known as the Chief Executive of the Ocean Housing Group, based in St Austell www.ocean-group.co.uk/ but out of hours he swaps his suit and briefcase for waterproof clothing and a backpack. It’s all because trekking has become his passion thanks to Cornish charity Cornwall Hospice Care. 

David has raised nearly £20,000 over the last few years for Cornwall Hospice Care to help support the charity’s work caring for people with life limiting illnesses and their families. As he explains, it all started with a poster;

“I was just walking up from Charlestown one day and saw the sign for the Cornwall Hospice Care trek to the Great Wall of China and that was the start of it.  I got in contact with the hospice and I thought, well if I’m going to do something I might as well try and make a bit of a difference. It wasn’t so much the money with me but actually the money is a bi-product that I know makes a difference to the hospices and the patients.”

David has gone on a number of charity treks since then and says the one to Base Camp at Everest had a profound effect on him;

“Everybody who was on the Everest trip had a story of actually having used the hospice, so that was quite interesting for me to see why many people were there and to hear the many memories that they had. It was very, very moving and I think we were all in tears when we actually got to Base Camp, both at having got there, but also at what we had achieved together as a group and with the collective memory of the people many had lost. It was an absolutely fantastic trip.”

David is now training for his next adventure to conquer an as yet unclimbed mountain in the same area along with Expeditionwise, the company who support the Cornwall Hospice Care treks. He says his adventures mean a huge amount to him;

“I’ve been very, very blessed and incredibly lucky that I haven’t had to use the hospices either myself, or the individuals in my family. Now that day may come and if it does I’ll be in the hospice smiling and thinking of all the trips I’ve done and all the fantastic memories and knowing that in my own way, I’ve done a little bit. I think I’m just incredibly lucky to be able to go and do these adventures.   In my view and without question, the biggest gift is your health and for those who aren’t so fortunate well, if I’m helping in one small way then I’m proud to do that.”

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