Arthur and Dave’s story

“We were so grateful on more than one occasion that Rennie Grove is there for patients and their families 24 hours a day. We had to get in touch with the night team to get some over-the-phone advice on Dad’s medication and another time the nurses visited when Mum needed help. It is these times that you realise what an incredible service Rennie Grove offers – they are always there for you no matter what time – day or night.” 

“My Dad – Arthur Hilling – was a much-loved World War 2 veteran who was well known in Holmer Green, the village where he and my Mum lived.

“In February 2016 he was diagnosed with throat, lung and kidney cancer and to say that my Mum Pamela, my sister Sue, me (his son Dave) and the rest of the family were devastated, is an understatement.

“When Dad asked how long he had got the doctor said months not years to which Dad responded “Well I would have liked longer but we all have to go at some stage”.  Dad didn’t want any treatment and fought the cancer with as much effort as his mind and body could muster. It was a very dark time for our family and we felt alone and in a place we had been lucky enough never to have been before.

“Rennie Grove Hospice Care came into our lives just a few days after Dad’s diagnosis. We were put in touch with the charity via our GP and our first meeting was with a nurse called Emma who was a great comfort to us all and especially to Mum who was relieved to know that nursing help was at hand. Simply by coming to our family home and talking to us about Dad’s condition and explaining the support Rennie Grove could provide to Dad and to us, his family, made a big difference straight away.

 Arthur Hilling

“Emma and her colleague Barbara became part of the team that helped Dad manage his condition so that he – and we – could achieve some great things despite his illness.  For instance just seven weeks after his diagnosis Dad celebrated his 90th birthday with all his family and friends which was an unforgettable event.

“He also managed to attend the annual Grenadier Guards day at Aldershot in July were he spent ten minutes talking to Prince Philip where Dad reminded him that he was part of the guard of honour at his wedding to the then Princess Elizabeth, back in 1947.  Most importantly of all, with the help and support of the Rennie Grove team, Dad and Mum were together to celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary in August.

“The regular visits Dad received from Emma and Barbara were quite remarkable. Before they arrived Dad would often be quiet and down. But that all changed when they walked in the room and we would suddenly get our Dad back. He would chat and joke with them, telling them that there was nothing wrong with him and that he didn’t know what all the fuss was about!

“Personally I was taken aback by the level of care and understanding that the nurses provided, how well they listened to us and were very respectful towards us as individuals and of Dad’s situation.  They were such skilled communicators: able to help us talk about this most serious situation and to respond to our questions – ones that no-one would ever want to have to ask – in the most tactful and sensitive manner, using language that we all understood and involving us in all decisions about Dad’s care.

“We were so grateful on more than one occasion that Rennie Grove is there for patients and their families 24 hours a day. We had to get in touch with the night team to get some over-the-phone advice on Dad’s medication and another time nurses visited when Mum needed help to get Dad out of his chair and up to bed. It is these times that you realise what an incredible service Rennie Grove offers – they are always there for you no matter what time – day or night.

“They helped in practical ways too and all the equipment Dad needed to keep him comfortable at home was sorted out and delivered very quickly indeed.  We didn’t have to get involved in that aspect at all which meant we focused all our time on him and didn’t have to chase round various health and social care services to obtain equipment.

“Dad’s last few weeks were the toughest and with the help of Barbara and Emma he was able to stay at home for as long as possible. I didn’t realise that hospice charities work in partnership with each other but when it was explained that they did then we made the hardest decision of all and that was that Dad would spend his last few days in Florence Nightingale Hospice, Stoke Mandeville. Barbara arranged everything for us including the ambulance to take Dad there.  She was unbelievably caring and what she said to Dad as he left his home for the last time left an indelible mark on my life.

Arthur and Pamela Hilling with their grandchildren 

“Dad died on 31 October 2016 and I am sharing his story on behalf of all his family because I want to tell this amazing charity how much it means to us.  So to the leadership team, the back room staff, the nurses, the many unseen and unsung heroes, volunteers, supporters and fundraisers at Rennie Grove Hospice Care – thank you.

 

“During Dad’s illness and since his death I have been supporting Rennie Grove as a volunteer and as a fundraiser.  In 2018 I ran The Big Half and in 2019 I am running the London Marathon in Dad’s memory. I am “Doing it for Dad” so that other families can receive the type of specialist care that Rennie Grove provided to my inspirational, loving and courageous Dad when he needed it.”