Tony and Maggie King were married for 46 years. For the last 13 years of their marriage, Maggie volunteered at the coffee shop and as a fundraiser at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.
Maggie was suddenly taken ill with pancreatic cancer in May 2018. After a spell in hospital, she was cared for at the hospice where she had spent so many years volunteering before she died in August 2018.
Since then, Tony and his family have set up an Incredible Memories Fund: an online page where they can share special photos and thoughts, and donations can be made in Maggie’s memory. To date, the fund has raised more than £3,000 for Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice. Here, Tony recounts their story.
The people at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice were wonderful. The care was wonderful in every aspect, and there were so many aspects of it.
The medical care for Maggie was just unbelievable. She never complained once about pain and I felt comfortable that she wasn’t suffering – that can only be as a result of the care they gave to her.
We spent a lot of time in the gardens; Maggie was a mad keen gardener. Her room looked out on the lovely gardens and her bed was moved so she could appreciate the garden during the day.
To have that facility – the quietness of it, the peace of it, the relaxation of it – was perfect, absolutely perfect.
"The nurses told me I must keep talking to her."
The staff allowed me to sleep at the hospice with her all the time. The Sue Ryder Nurses were just fantastic – they woke me up on one occasion inadvertently because I didn’t realise they were coming in every hour and turning her.
When Maggie fell into a coma, they told me I must keep talking to her because hearing is the last of the senses to go. Maggie’s reaction was to twitch and I knew one twitch was "Yes" and more than one twitch was "What?", which was a favourite expression of hers.
I kept talking to her right up until the end.
"The staff and volunteers just knew exactly what we were going through."
The pastoral care was just as amazing as the medical care.
One of my sons lives in Australia and he was concerned about whether or not to come over. One of the doctors told me not to worry about it – he would let us know when it was time for him to get on a plane – and he did. My son was able to spend 14 days with Maggie.
The care and attention that was shown to both of my sons was wonderfully well managed; the staff and volunteers just knew exactly what we were all going through.
"I couldn't have coped without Sue Ryder's care and concern."
I think the support we were shown was the difference between us coping – or coping as well as you could ever dream in such a situation – and not coping at all. All the time, there were people at the hospice who just put everything in perspective and it enabled us to cope. I don’t know how we can ever say thank you.
The care, the thought and the concern that was expressed by staff on the bereavement side guided me through, particularly about big decisions; I couldn’t have done without it.
I can’t say enough about Sue Ryder. They showed so much care and attention to detail – without it ever being apparent. There was no fuss about it; it just happened all the time.
"I can't recommend an Incredible Memories Fund enough; it's such an easy way for people to donate."
The church was absolutely packed at Maggie’s wake – we crammed in 190 people and collected £1,900 in donations in one day.
Afterwards, one of the Sue Ryder team told us about the Incredible Memories Fund, where we could collect donations online and add photos and memories. This seemed like a great way for the whole family – including my son in Australia – to see the funds being raised in Maggie’s memory.
My sons set the page up with the help of Sue Ryder, which was easy to do. And it’s worked; it’s worked like a dream. I can't recommend it enough. It's such an easy way for people to donate that a further £1,100 has been donated through it. In total, we have raised over £3,000.
Fundraising is absolutely vital for Sue Ryder. All those little things that take place at the hospice – that all has to be paid for. Ours is a very small contribution towards that, but it helps nonetheless. Thorpe Hall needs every bit of support it can get.
Create your own Incredible Memories Fund in memory of a loved one.
Husband of patient
Tony's late wife Maggie ended her life at our Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough. He found it a great comfort to collect donations and share photos and memories of her through an online Incredible Memories Fund.