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Remembering my husband Ben: Sam's story

11 Jan 2021
Black and white photo of Sam and Ben cutting their wedding cake and pulling funny faces

Sam Sykes’ husband Ben, 36, was cared for in the last weeks of his life at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, where he was able to spend precious time with Sam and their daughter Erin. Determined to ensure other families benefit from the same specialist palliative care, Sam set up 'Go Big or Go Home!', an Incredible Memories Fund tribute page for Ben and has since raised over £50,000 in his memory.

Priceless memories

Ben was diagnosed with stage 4 incurable and inoperable bowel cancer in January 2019. He was supported in the last five weeks of his life at Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, with Sam and their two-year-old daughter Erin by his side, staying together as a family through such an emotionally difficult time.

Ben died on July 16, 2019.

“I wanted to raise £17,000 for the hospice,” Sam said, “which is roughly what it would have cost to provide our family with the exceptional specialist care and support during the final weeks of his life, but we were so overwhelmed by the support shown and were able to reach that target just 13 weeks after Ben’s death. So now, in true Sykes’ style, we are going even bigger! In memory of Ben, our aim is to simply ensure we can help as many families as possible to have the same time to create their own priceless memories. 

It has been really lovely the number of people who have left messages and photos.

“My husband set me the initial challenge to raise £17,000 and I had lots of ideas, but I didn’t know how to funnel that. I didn’t want to be dealing with 25 different fundraising pages – I wanted to create a central place where I could tell our story just once. It was the fundraising team at Leckhampton who mentioned the tribute pages and when I looked into it I realised it was exactly what I needed.

“I could keep a running total of all the money raised by different people in memory of Ben and I wanted to be able to look back in five years’ time and see what we have achieved so the tribute page was perfect. It has been really lovely the number of people who have left messages and photos and also to have all their fundraising totals in one place. I still now go back through all the messages from some of the events we did 18 months ago.”

Everything connected

“It’s really simple to use and there isn’t a lot of admin. It does everything I want it to do and the site staff have also been really helpful and responsive. You can connect your Just Giving pages straight to your tribute page so when people contact me to say they are doing some fundraising for Ben I can just link it straight to his page.

“It’s a great way of sharing things. All the events and videos are on there and you can see everything we have done grouped together”

“It combines all your online and offline donations as well, so everything is connected. It’s a great way of sharing things and I think the best thing about the site is the flexibility it gives you. I like the fact that all the events and videos are on there and you can see everything we have done grouped together.

“I think I started using it in one way because I had a set idea of what I wanted, but the site has adapted with me and I have found I have been using it differently as time has gone on. For example, this year we did birthday beers for Ben through the page and I think that’s something I will continue to do.”

As Erin grows older I want her to be able to look at it and see how many people cared about her daddy.

I still find the tribute page so moving and it has definitely helped me feel connected to Ben. I like that there is a tribute to him out there. It means a lot to me that we have been able to do that for him. I have been so touched by the messages people have left about him and it’s important that the page will be there for as long as I want it to be there.

“As Erin grows older I want her to be able to look at it and see how many people cared about her daddy. The tribute site shows my life after Ben but with him still at the heart of it. I don’t know how I would have achieved that without it.”

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