Making Every Day Together Count
Paul's wife Val died aged just 37 after battling breast, bone and liver cancer. Paul, who has two young sons, remembers how his local hospice gave the family amazing moments together when time was most precious.
"A nurse called Judy from the Hospice of St Francis started to visit us all at home not only to care for Val, but to look after the whole family. As Val's illness progressed, the hospice helped us to make every day count by creating positive memories for Matt and Alex, who were aged nine and seven.
'The hospice helped arrange for our boys to be mascots'
"The hospice worked with Val to arrange for our boys to be mascots at their favourite football team, Quenns Park Rangers, for the first game of the 2009/10 season. This was an ambition of theirs, and came to fruition in the last weekend of Val's life. Although she was unable to attend herself due to her illness progressing, I remember coming home and the boys excitedly telling their mum about the day they had, and the look of sheer fulfilment that this had given Val.
"The hospice also assisted in making plans for us to renew our wedding vows with our children and friends present, where Val was able to walk up the aisle to her favourite music, and the nurses helped us arrange a family holiday to EuroDisney."
'The nurses were so caring, sensitive and understanding'
"After months of home visits and family support from the hospice, Val spent her final days in the in-patient unit at the hospice in the summer. The nurses who cared for Val were so caring, sensitive and understanding of all of our needs.
"I stayed every day during the week at Val's bedside, sleeping alongside her and comforting her. The boys drifted in and out the room, whilst going to talk with the counsellors, using the children's room, and also walking outside in the beautiful grounds.
"My two boys and I were present as Val peacefully slipped away with her favourite music playing that we had walked down the aisle too only months earlier. It was the most dignified way imaginable for Val to pass away and I am sure has helped the boys remember Val for all the positive reasons."
'Helping us to face the future'
"The hospice helped me and the boys through the difficult days ahead.We have attended many 'family days' for bereaved relatives at the hospice, where we've made treasured friendships with other families going through similar situations.
"Now, all of the first year anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas have passed. I am back to work and the boys have moved on successfully in their schooling. The hospice still keeps in touch, we come to family days, we look back at the memories that the hospice helped us create, and treasure those last precious moments of Val's life."