William, aged six: “I like to do the walk with my family and friends to raise money for St Christopher’s because my mummy died there and the money will help to look after other people and buy equipment to help them”
Debbie Slaughter, 59 from Bromley, kindly took the time to tell us about why she supports St Christopher’s. Her daughter, Jenny, died at the hospice in 2013 aged 27.
“Jenny had stage four melanoma, and her conditioned worsened very quickly. She stayed at St Christopher’s for around 6 weeks and in that time the hospice became a home from home. I had known St Christopher’s before as my mum had respite care here and so when Jenny came here from the hospital I felt an overwhelming feeling of relief. It gave us such a sense of security; it was our safety net. We were so welcomed and looked after. I stayed with her all the time and we were even able to bring the dog in to visit. She was always treated as a person, as an individual and not just another person in a bed. She was never spoken over or about and was able to make her own decisions right up until the very end. That’s so important.
Everyone just seems to know what you need. A physio came to see her, and she was given massages in her room on the ward. I remember one day getting whisked away for a massage too; to think someone cared and looked after me as well meant so much. Everyone is geared to making end of life as positive as it can be. I don’t know what we’d have done without St Christopher’s.
Jenny’s son, William, was two at the time. He’s now six and he remembers so much. I have memories of William coming to the hospice to see his mum and him loving the garden and all the fish.
We’ve taken part in two Fun Walks and two Bluebell Walks and raised around £12,000. That’s such a testament to Jenny and it means that other families can receive the same support. Jenny had even done the walk herself previously with friends. The walks are extremely emotional days but there’s a sense of comradery with other people who really understand what you’re going through. William did the Fun Walk earlier this year – he walked the whole 11 miles which was just amazing. He was buzzing at the end.
The first time we took part, we had a team of about 10 made up of myself, my husband and some of my work friends and Jenny’s friends. Now, every time we’re taking part, I put a notice up at work, Cook in Petts Wood, with a little story about how the hospice helped my family, and asking people to sponsor us. Lots of customers see it and tell us about how they, or someone they know, have been supported by St Christopher’s.
The Bluebell Walk is a beautiful walk in the countryside. It’s a lovely day out, whilst doing something to help. There’s always an absolutely brilliant atmosphere; there’s tears, laughter; all emotions! I find it very cathartic – a time to talk about the person you’ve lost and talk to other people and hear their stories. You realise that you’re not alone.”