Julia’s story

My husband Phil loved life. He was fit, healthy and gained enormous pleasure from his job as a landscape contractor . And so, when he first got ill, we didn’t really worry; we thought it was just something to go through, that he’d be strong enough to overcome it.

But it wasn’t like that. Months of doctors and tests went by, all the time Phil getting gradually worse, a little bit weaker. He was prone to infections and so we lived almost trapped in the house, couldn’t even invite friends and family over in case they brought a bug with them.

By October last year he was in a really bad way. The bone marrow transplant – which had been our hope – was now not possible. The consultant recommended Dorothy House – and miraculously a bed had become available for him. Phil went in the ambulance, I followed behind.

If you think a hospice is a cold, scary building you couldn’t be more wrong. We found a warm, homely, happy place filled with the most amazing people – and all they wanted to do was to make Phil (and me) feel the best we possibly could, each and every day.

Their care was so brilliant that Phil started to improve. I would go every day and spend time just talking and recalling favourite moments. If you remember, last October was really warm and sunny – and so we spent hours outside in their beautiful gardens.

Phil had built a section of the hospice garden a few years back. The water feature, leading down and around to the special garden that now holds the hospice’s Christmas tree each year. Every time friends and family came to visit, Phil would take them out (the nurses found him an electric wheelchair!) and he’d show them all ‘his’ garden, talk about the plants and the water feature. He was so proud of it.

The atmosphere at Dorothy House was just beautiful. They found the right balance; there were decorations all around, but they were tasteful, not over-the-top. Phil hoped to make it to Christmas; but he just couldn’t hold on. He died on the 23rd December – in his bed, comfortable, in peace, at the hospice.

I’ve found it really tough to go back since. But, I’m going to try and come to see the Christmas tree lit up in ‘his’ garden on November 24th  – which I know is the first of the 43 days of Christmas for Dorothy House.

I hope you’ll choose to support this amazing charity this Christmas – because I know from experience just how their loving, compassionate, dedicated nursing care utterly transforms lives.

Thank you – and have a very happy Christmas.