Andrew: “Getting married was really important to us. Once we did it, it felt like we’d always been married and it definitely felt like the right thing to do.”

Steven and Andrew married on the Nuffield Ward at St Christopher’s in July this year. Andrew very kindly talked to us shortly after the ceremony took place in July.

“We met in a bar about 12 or 13 years ago and just really liked each other. When we’d known each other about a year and a half we bought a caravan and spent our weekends in Seaford, Sussex. We both love caravanning and it was a good training ground to make sure we got on well! We lived in each other’s pockets and it was about 8 or 9 years ago that we bought our place in Croydon. Steve kept driving past and loved the place, and it has a big garden so I was happy. I love gardening- when I’m not caravanning I’m in the garden.

Steve worked for Croydon council for 37 years doing road repairs. I’m originally an architect and now works in planning, looking after listed buildings and conservation areas. Steve works hard physically so he likes to relax and is very much a home person. We both like going round junk shops and to nice old places, as well as caravanning. Caravan season is March to October. October meant the end of caravanning which made Steve miserable and in winter his job meant he would be out gritting the roads, which made him even more miserable!

We’re very different people but we just get on really well. Steve taught me how to relax.

We thought about having a civil partnership for a while- I don’t know why but we didn’t go for it but things move on and times change.  Getting married was really important to us- it shows what our relationship is to us. Once we did it, it felt like we’d always been married and it definitely felt like the right thing to do.

I was amazed at how quickly it could all be arranged and how quickly such good friends and family could come having had such short notice. Quite a few of the people at the wedding were from Steve’s work and it was nice that the hospice staff were able to share it too.

Steve said to me afterwards that he felt content and happy – and that’s all I could wish for really.

It was a nice simple ceremony- and it’s the ceremony that’s the important part. It doesn’t need to be in grand surroundings. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Steve’s illness is related to his bowels but, although he’s had lots of tests, they still don’t know the source and that’s hard to come to terms with. He received almost a full course of chemotherapy but after 11 sessions he was feeling weak and tingly and the nurse advised that it was doing more harm than good.

It was about eight months ago that the Marsden referred us to St Christopher’s. We had some homecare prior to Steve coming in and I’ve also received some bereavement counselling. But at the moment I just have to go through this and bereavement counselling will come afterwards.

When we first came here, Steve rushed straight out again- it’s not nice hearing the word hospice. But we’ve found it wonderful- especially the staff. It’s also a nice place for friends and family to visit, with the gardens and the café. Everyone has found it really peaceful.

When you read about Cicely Saunders, you realise how true it is that the hospice is not just about coming in to die, it’s about helping people make the most of life. Andrew Goodhead is a really nice chap and has been amazing at sorting things out.

When you’re home on your own and have never been a carer before, it’s exhausting and you’re already emotionally drained. When you speak to nurses on the phone and are being asked what he looks like, or what his temperature is, it’s hard because you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. Then there’s making sure he takes his different medications throughout the day.

The nice thing about Steve being at St Christopher’s is that I know he’s being well looked after and I don’t need to worry about the medical and physical side of things. He’s in the right people’s hands.

All he had wanted to do was retire and go caravanning- but he’s very much at peace.”