“It was always an ambition of mine to join the Army,” says Terry, one of our Living Well patients.
. “The first time I saw them march through Northampton, which is where I’m originally from, I always said I wanted to be in the Army. When I told the foreman at my job that I was leaving next week, he said ‘what for?’ and I said ‘I’m going to join the Army’. He said ‘you’ll never do it’ but he was wrong. I meant to do it. I joined on my 17th birthday and I stayed in for 23 years. It’s shaped my life, really. I met my wife, Caroline, there and we got married in 1975. We’ve been married for over 40 years now and we’ve got two children, Robert and Julie. I made it to corporal and travelled all over the world before I finally left in 1988.”
When he was in the Army, Terry travelled to many different countries. “I went to Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Northern Ireland, the Seychelles – all over the place. My longest posting was in Cyprus. I did three tours in there. The first one was when I first joined up, when I was seventeen. I was there for three years. Then in 1972 I found out that my brother had joined the first battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, and they were based in Cyprus. I transferred over, thinking we could spend some time together, but instead of meeting up with him, his battalion was down one end of Cyprus and the support company I was in was at the other end! I think I saw him about twice!”
After leaving the Army, Terry had a number of jobs, including working for a refrigeration company and a photo sound company. It wasn’t long, however, before he returned to Army life, when he got a job at Bassingbourn Barracks, an Army Training Regiment for recruits. “I didn’t train the recruits,” he explains. “I started there as the Documents Clerk, and then I ended up working as the SHEF Advisor, which stands for Safety, Health, Environment & Fire. I did that for 11 years.”
“Being the Health and Safety Advisor at Bassingbourn Barracks is a bit different from being the Health and Safety Advisor in civvy street. I had to do risk assessments for obstacle courses, low-firing ranges, even for the set-up on bonfire night. That meant getting in a funfair and doing the health and safety assessment on them, and on the bonfire and all the fireworks, making sure they were all pointing in the right direction! It was really interesting, I enjoyed it. And as I had only joined to be the Documents Clerk, that wasn’t too bad!”
Terry worked at Bassingbourn Barracks for 11 years, before taking early retirement and moving to Church Crookham, where Caroline’s father and sister lived.
“We moved to Fleet about six years ago,” he says, “and I started coming to Phyllis Tuckwell in May this year.”
Terry has a condition called Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a progressive lung disease which makes his chest feel tight and leaves him feeling breathless. After being referred to Phyllis Tuckwell, he was visited by one of our Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs). Often the first members of our team to see a new patient, our CNSs are pivotal in assessing each individual’s needs and the needs of their families. They can refer patients on to other services within PTHC, such as Day Hospice, and can also offer complementary therapies, counselling and practical support to patients’ families and carers.
“The Phyllis Tuckwell nurse came round and said she’d like to see me be a bit more social, because I’m a bit of a lonely type,” explains Terry. “I don’t talk to a lot of people; I enjoy my own company. I always thought a hospice was a place you go to die, because the last time I went to a hospice, I saw my mate there, then I went home and later that day I got a phone call to say he’d died. It was very upsetting.”
Terry started coming to one of our weekly Day Hospice sessions, which are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am-4pm, and provide patients with access to all of our Living Well services, as well as offering them the chance to meet other people in a similar situation and enjoy a cooked, three-course lunch together.
“It’s nice at Day Hospice, sitting round and talking to people,” says Terry. “I’ve got COPD and PTSD among other things, so it’s nice to go there and meet other people with similar conditions. We chat about anything and everything. It’s good because you meet all sorts of people. I enjoy it; I feel more relaxed. One day I was sitting there drawing and somebody said I should go along to their art class. I’ve always drawn. I was useless at school, but drawing is one of those things you do, you start doodling. It helps you to relax; it helps me.”
Terry started coming to our Brush with Art sessions, which are held on a Monday afternoon from 2-4pm at the Hospice in Farnham. Brush with Art is an informal, volunteer-led group which offers patients and carers the opportunity to rediscover their creativity through painting, drawing and collage. It creates a positive environment where participants can de-stress and forget about their health problems for a while, and its social focus emphasises fun and relaxation. Participants are able to explore their creative side and find an outlet for their feelings. Brush with Art is just one of the many Living Well sessions that we offer, supporting patients who need help with every day activities, providing therapies, advice and nursing care to help them cope with the symptoms of their illness and improve their quality of life. The team includes Doctors, Nurses, Therapists, Counsellors, Benefits & Entitlements Advisors, Dietitians and Chaplains, who provide a range of medical, clinical and therapeutic care to promote physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Together they help our patients manage the impact of their illness, cope with changes, improve their wellbeing and remain as independent as possible, and they also support the families of our patients, too.
“Hospices are not only for people who are dying,” says Terry. “They also help people adjust to their illnesses. You give them help. You help people a lot more than I realised.”
Everyday we need to raise over £25,000 to provide our services free of charge to our patients and their families. Please make a donation today to support the important work of Phyllis Tuckwell.