"He said he wished he could pin it on him and take it with him"
The Stokes family cherishes the precious memories made laughing together in the hospice gardens with Geoff, their beloved dad, grandad and husband. Chris Stokes shares some special moments…
We’d sit in gardens for hours playing with my children or having a picnic. You’d forget why you were there. Some of our best memories were in the last three weeks while he was staying in The Hospice because everyone was so friendly.
When I used to think of a hospice, I always thought it felt like a waiting room to go and die. So it didn’t sound nice when dad first said St Helena had been in touch.
Dad started having Hospice in the Home visits and then he began attending the Men’s Cancer group each week, which he liked. He’d be picked up and go in to meet the other chaps, have a bit of a chat, get out the house. It’s the sort of thing I never would have thought dad would ever be up for doing. It allowed him to be away from home and to talk about his feelings, which dad didn’t do with us. With the other guys they could just talk about stuff that didn’t go outside the four walls; I think that must have really helped him.
Before dad died, one of the family support people suggested it may be easier for me to write a letter to dad about the things I wouldn’t talk to him about. I wrote it and then I remember thinking, how do I give this letter to him now? I felt silly, awkward, as I’d never spoken to my dad openly expressing my emotions. Mum read him the letter when he was in the hospice. He said he wished he could pin it on him and take it with him.
We have wonderful memories as a family of sitting and laughing with dad in the hospice garden. Precious moments to celebrate dad’s life and remember how happy he was in his last weeks.
Geoff Stokes in The Hospice garden
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24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360
SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.
To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 848 163
Fax: 01206 752 245
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Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU
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If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360
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If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.
Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566