Richard and Charlie's Story

After being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, Charlie’s father, Richard, was able to spend his last days in the comfort of his own home, thanks to the support and help of Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care.

“My father found being in hospital very distressing,” said Charlie, Richard’s son. “After being told he only had two weeks to live, it was our sole objective to move him somewhere where he could convalesce and come to terms with this shattering news.” said Charlie.

“Phyllis Tuckwell helped us and gave my father a bed. When I walked in to see him the day after he had arrived at the Hospice, the difference was incredible. It was almost like looking at a different person. A huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders; he was comfortable, had people to talk to and received exceptional care. He had his own ensuite room which enabled him to regain some of his independence and dignity. It made such a difference.”

“A few days in bed, being given good quality food that he wanted to eat (eating was a problem due to his illness), and my father was able to get up and sit outside on the terrace in the sun. I believe this caring environment was crucial to my father regaining enough physical and mental strength to come to terms with what we were facing. It was such an emotional rollercoaster, yet, when my father was at the Hospice, somehow we all found a bit of peace and tranquillity to deal with the situation as positively as we could.”

After spending a couple of weeks at the Hospice, Richard was able to go home, where he lived for two months until he died in January 2012.

Charlie said, “Without doubt, Phyllis Tuckwell was responsible for enabling my father to become well enough to come home. He lived for another two months beyond his initial two week diagnosis. For him and us, the extra time that we had together was the best Christmas present we could have wished for.

We were given the chance to say all the things we wanted to say, organise everything the way my father wanted it. He was able to see us coming to terms with the situation, which I think helped him come to terms with it. And for us, seeing him so calm, smiling and seemingly in a good place, was a huge help to us.”

Charlie’s story doesn’t end there. Having been inspired by both his father and the work of Phyllis Tuckwell, Charlie recently embarked on a 4,630km bike ride from Calais to Gibraltar, which took three months to complete and raised an incredible £11,000 for Phyllis Tuckwell. The route Charlie and his friend took retraced the steps Richard had taken in 1963 with friends.

Charlie continues, “When we were sitting on the sun terrace at the Hospice, my father said that if he recovered he was going to return to the Hospice and tend the gardens. Sadly this never happened, but I promised him that I would do something for Phyllis Tuckwell on behalf of all of us. Hence the bike ride from Calais to Gibraltar came to fruition.

The bike ride also provided me with time for reflection and has been a huge help in coming to terms with losing my father, bringing me even closer to him, and providing a really positive end to what was a very distressing period. I know my father would have been incredibly proud and honoured that I did that in his memory.

The work of Phyllis Tuckwell goes beyond caring for terminally ill patients. The impact on close family of the patients is also unbelievable. The relief we felt when leaving the Hospice after visiting my father every day, knowing he was in the safest and kindest of hands, and that he was smiling and happy for the first time in several weeks, was immense.

Of course, we all hope we won’t need the care of a hospice, but the reality is that many of us will. Phyllis Tuckwell deserves all the support and plaudits it gets as the staff there were so selfless, kind and amazingly caring – I really don’t know what we would have done without them.”