“It was helpful to go back through all our times together and contribute something in Dom’s memory”

Jennie Hanbidge’s husband Dom died at home on October 17, 2020, aged just 48 after being diagnosed with stage 4 oesophageal cancer only a few months earlier. As the family were supported by the community team at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice during Dom’s illness, Jennie set up an Incredible Memories Fund enabling those who knew him to share memories and raise over £6,000 for the hospice.

Jennie and Dom Hanbidge, sitting and smiling together in a restaurant

A self-employed electrician, Dom was known to many as ‘Disco Dom’, having spent many years as a DJ. He first began to feel unwell in July 2020, after struggling to eat and drink, and was admitted to hospital on August 11.

Jennie said: “A week later they told us it was stage four oesophageal cancer. At that point, they were hopeful that with treatment he would have anything from six to 12 months. It was horrendous, but we were hopeful he would have a good few months. He had one lot of chemo and he seemed quite well for about five days. We even managed to get the children into the hospital to see him. But he started going downhill again and Dom knew there was something else. He had another scan which revealed secondary cancer, a bowel obstruction, and they said there was nothing more they could do.

“Our six to 12 months then dropped to two weeks so we came home and just did what we could to get things sorted out as quickly as we could. Dom wanted to be at home and it was really good that he was able to be at home. Otherwise, the children wouldn’t have seen him because of the COVID-19 restrictions and we wouldn’t have had that time together.”

With the support of the District Nurses, the Community team at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice and a Sue Ryder doctor, Dom was able to spend the last five weeks of his life at home with his family.

Keeping Dom's memory alive

When Dom died, restrictions meant that just 28 people could attend the funeral, but many more wanted to pay their respects. The Incredible Memories Fund enabled people to share their memories of Dom with his family and meant that Jennie could share details of the funeral with those who couldn’t attend.

She says: “One of the community fundraisers from Wheatfields suggested setting up the tribute page. I’m not very technical, but I thought I would have a look and I realised it was really easy to do. I put some photos on there and started telling family and friends and it went from there. One of Dom’s friends runs a local radio station in Ilkley, where Dom used to live, and he spread the word too. Dom knew so many people there and there were lovely comments from people who remembered him from school or parties he’d DJ’d at.”

Sharing photos and stories

“As a tool, the tribute page was really good because it allowed people to know the songs that we played at the funeral, even if they couldn’t be there, and people could light a virtual candle for Dom. Under normal circumstances you would have a big funeral and wake and people would talk to you about their memories and maybe show you photos, but we weren’t able to do that, so it was really nice to have a way of collecting those stories and photos from people who wanted to share their memories of Dom.”

Jennie and Dom’s children are just three and seven, but Jennie hopes they will also benefit from the tribute page in years to come.

“I have definitely found it useful. There is so much you can do with it. They keep the page up for as long as you want it to be there. People I have not seen for a long time have left some lovely stories about Dom and that will be a nice thing for the children as they get older.”

Michelle Darbyshire, Community Fundraiser at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, said:

“We are so grateful to Jennie and her family and friends for their kind support and for raising an astonishing amount of money in Dom’s memory. This will help us to continue providing our compassionate palliative care and bereavement support and being there when it matters for other local families. Incredible Memories Funds can be a truly special way to celebrate the life of someone who means so much, and do something positive in their name.”

 Bianca Neumann-May, Head of Bereavement at Sue Ryder said:

“As a society, the grief those around us are experiencing right now is unlike anything we have ever witnessed before.

“Funerals are an incredibly important part of the grieving process. It is a way to recognise your loss, celebrate the life that has been lived and can offer closure and support. Without this ritual, it may be hard for some people to fully process their loss and it’s upsetting for many that they can’t give their loved one the send-off they deserved.

“The Incredible Memories Fund is an important tool for people to process their grief in these unprecedented times. Not only does it allow people to celebrate a life that has been lived in the absence of big funerals, but it keeps their memory alive for years to come.”

Find out more information about Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, the expert palliative care they provide and ways you can help to support them

If you are struggling to cope after a bereavement or supporting someone else, we have resources, qualified counsellors and a community of others with similar experiences to help you through your grief.

Celebrate a loved one's life

An Incredible Memories Fund is a long-lasting way to remember someone special by sharing memories, photos and stories, while raising vital funds for Sue Ryder and doing something positive in their memory.