Gary's Story

Shared by Gary’s friend, James.

I first met Gary back in 1985 at the Oxford United Manor Ground – we were both avid Oxford United fans. From that day on we became great mates and often met at the football ground to watch our beloved Oxford play.

As the years went by, we would often be found in the pub sipping on a few beers and playing crib, a card game we often butted heads on!

While on holiday in Spain, Gary met Elizabeth from Belfast, who would, a few years later, become his wife. Liz, as she was better known, was the love of Gary’s life and he would do anything for her. They bought a property in Risinghurst which became their family home and they remained there for many years to come.

On 23 January 2001, Gary and Liz’s son Lewis was born to the delight of the Bowyer family. Gary and Liz absolutely doted on Lewis and Lewis would be stuck to his dad’s side if ever you saw them out and about.

Gary was a builder by trade but could put his hand to anything and was often helping friends out with alterations in their homes, as he did in my parents’ home. It was just in his nature to help people out.

In September each year, a group of our friends would go away for a week to a different location in the UK for a break from work and so we could play golf, go fishing and just generally have a laugh together. It was always a time of year that Gary really enjoyed. I was always the ‘lucky’ one to be stuck in the same room as Gary – let’s just say he was a noisy sleeper!

It was on one of our yearly trips away in 2014 that Gary confessed to me that he was ill and had discovered a lump in his throat. It became clear that this trip would be his last – cancer had reared its ugly head. This news was completely devastating for Gary and his family and friends.

Pictured: Liz, Lewis and Gary
Pictured: Gary and James with friends
Pictured: James and Lewis

As the months passed Gary became weaker as this terrible disease took its hold, but he stood strong with Liz and Lewis by his side.

One morning in April 2015, Gary asked Liz to take him to Sobell House for respite, which would give Liz the chance to rest too. Gary knew when he arrived at Sobell House that he wouldn’t be going home and would spend his last days at the Hospice.

Once the wonderful staff at Sobell House got Gary’s pain under control he felt much better within himself. In fact, one morning he got up and headed to the hospital shop to buy a paper. Unfortunately, the shop didn’t have his paper, so he left and started walking back to his room. Before he arrived, he spotted a bus outside the hospice, so he jumped on and went into Headington to get his paper. Gary being Gary, he even popped into a pub for a cider! After sipping on his favourite tipple, he phoned Liz who told him to get back to the hospice straight away with his tail between his legs! A funny story, but typical Gary.

As Gary battled on he became weaker, but always kept his sense of humour and fun. The whole family were welcome to visit him at any time – Liz’s loving sister Bab was often there for support, and Liz was always at his side. I was lucky enough to be allowed to stay with Gary for few nights to help keep his spirits up. I felt very honoured to be allowed to stay with Gary and Liz at the Hospice.

It was on 14 April 2015 that Gary lost his brave battle against cancer. We were all devastated by this sad news.

During one of our many conversations, Gary made me promise to look out for Liz and Lewis and I hope I have been faithful to my word. If I could speak to him now, I would say: “Don’t worry my friend. Liz is doing well and Lewis has grown into a fine young man”.

We all miss you, Gary. Till we meet again mate.

Thank you so much to James for kindly sharing Gary’s story and his time spent at Sobell House.

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