East Lancashire Hospice

Veronica Threlfall

Veronica Threlfall said her husband Derek passed away ‘with his toes in the sunshine’ at East Lancashire Hospice.

Derek was admitted to East Lancashire Hospice for pain management in the summer of 2016 on the advice of his doctors after undergoing numerous surgeries for cancer.

Veronica said: ‘The cancer that brought Derek to the hospice wasn’t his first. He had had a tumour removed from his face, he had had lung surgery but it had already spread into his bones.”

The couple’s first contact with the hospice had been in the form of two night’s support at home to enable full-time carer Veronica to get some much-needed rest.

“I had looked after Derek on my own until that point,” says Veronica. “The smiles from the hospice nurse soon put Derek and I at ease and I managed to get some sleep.

“He was in a lot of pain and it was suggested that Derek be admitted to the hospice for a few days to make him more comfortable.

“On the third day, I went to collect him from the hospice, but the doctor told me there was nothing more they could do. The hospice could be Derek’s home now.”

A devastated Veronica said: “We practically moved in, putting up photographs around Derek’s room. The family room was being used by another family at the time, so I slept on a camp bed at the side of Derek during his stay there. I sat in the garden at the hospice with Derek, listening to our favourite songs from Frank Sinatra and Neil Diamond.

“If we had been at home, we would have been in the garden. We brought refreshments and nibbles for family and friends who were visiting – and the nurses even insisted on bringing us a bucket of ice to keep the drinks cool.

“On the day that Derek passed away, staff brought us extra benches, cushions and parasols to make everyone more comfortable in the garden.

“Our grandson who lived in Australia, who hadn’t seen his Gramps for two years, flew over and managed to spend an hour with Derek before he passed away. Derek’s toes were in the sunshine, and he lay in his bed, surrounded by family. If we had to lose him, it couldn’t have been more perfect.”

Brave Veronica now volunteers each Wednesday afternoon on reception with her dog Chester and said it is an honour to be part of the team. She said: “I feel privileged to wear my Volunteer Badge and be part of the hospice.”