My father, Cliff, died of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related disease. Many local people have been affected by industrial diseases. I remember hearing stories of asbestos dust at his workplace, and children playing in asbestos dust in the streets of Kirkstall.
When my father became very ill he came to the hospice for pain relief. He’d been at home and in hospital where they’d done biopsies and swabs. He was in so much pain, but there is a lot of comfort and dignity at the hospice. The word my mother used to describe the hospice was ‘quality’. You’re not just a number, you have people with empathy – and nice surroundings. My father had a room where he could see Ferrybridge B power station, which had been a good customer of his, in the distance.
My father stayed in the hospice for two weeks and died here. But the hospice isn’t necessarily a place for your final journey. Many people come for pain relief and once they’re settled they may be able to go home.
My mother, Joan, chose to leave a gift to the hospice to say ‘thank you’ for the care my father received here. Both my parents remembered their own parents dying in hospital, so my father raised funds to build the hospice right from the start. The idea came from a conversation with the hospice’s original chairman which resulted in a group of local business people, including Dad, starting to raise funds. Dad really wanted to see they could make it happen. They raised money through subscriptions and sporting dinners.
My brother Graham and I were very pleased that my mother left a gift to the hospice. We didn’t know about it before she died, but when we learned of her intentions we were in full support. More people need to be aware of what the hospice does. It’s nice to support a local charity and be able to make a donation to help keep the hospice going.
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