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Chris and Pippa’s story

My wife, Pippa, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in August 2019 and was admitted to Sobell House in June 2020 at the height of the pandemic. As she was very ill, I was allowed to stay with her in a beautiful room which overlooked the golf course next to the Hospice. She was looked after by the most wonderful, kind people who would do anything for her, including providing her with ice lollies as this was all she could manage.

After 10 days the staff very kindly asked me if we would like to move to the family room which had a bed which I was able to use, and it even had a small kitchen area to make hot drinks. This was such a welcome relief to us both and made our stay at Sobell House that extra bit easier.

Lockdown in Sobell House was tough on everyone; face masks were compulsory, as were regular Covid-19 tests and temperature readings. The staff embraced these changes without any fuss and I genuinely never saw anyone who didn’t stick to the rules, it was incredible to see them doing their duties as if all these extra precautions were the norm.

There came a time as Pippa became more unwell where it became increasingly difficult and stressful to wash Pippa’s hair. Without any prompting, one of the nurses, Charlotte, went home on her lunch break to fetch her some “dry shampoo” which she then presented to Pippa and used to make this stressful event more bearable. It was these small things that may seem so trivial at the time but make all the difference looking back.

Pictured: Chris and Pippa

From the moment we arrived we were treated so incredibly well, and there was not one moment when I felt we were a burden to the staff. Rachel, the Minister, would pop along to say hello and read Pippa some scripture almost daily, and nurses were always so attentive which helped make this sad situation all the more bearable.

After 6 weeks of staying at Sobell House, sadly Pippa lost her battle with cancer and my time there ended.

As thanks for the amazing work the staff did for me and my family I have been raising much needed funds for Sobell House. Together, we collected about £5,500 in donations in the months after Pippa died, but I still felt I wanted to give more. Pippa had a keen interest in pottery and she loved nothing more than sculpting wonderful things out of clay, or painting with glaze amazing pictures onto plates and bowls. In the months following her death I had to make a decision as to whether to sell all her pottery equipment or try my own hand at it in the hope of keeping her love for ceramics going. I taught myself how to use the wheel and began making small pots, bowls, vases – anything I could, just to practice. I quickly fell in love with Pippa’s passion! To keep myself occupied during lockdown and to keep myself together, I absorbed myself into throwing pot after pot until I eventually ran out of space in the house for them. Friends encouraged me to sell these pots but in my mind they weren’t good enough, so I made a decision that if people were willing to buy them then I would give half the money to Sobell House, with the other half being spent on the raw materials to allow me to keep practising. To date, I have raised about £750 for Sobell House from the sale of my ceramics and I couldn’t think of a better place for the money to go to.

Lockdown at Sobell House was not stressful, tough, or difficult, it was an amazing place to be. To all the staff who looked after me and Pippa; I will be eternally grateful.