It was a place of laughter, fun and friendly faces which created its own family of members – the team of nurses and volunteers always knew everyone’s names.Paul Hazleby
All quotations are used with permission.
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“St Ann’s is such a wonderful place and, as silly as it sounds, Kev had a lovely time there”. Judith Lacy, whose partner Kev died at St Ann’s Hospice, aged 49.
Help us make a difference to families like the Hazelbys.
Most 7 year old boys spend their days dreaming of the latest computer games, football matches and that year’s toy of the year. Paul Hazelby had a little more on his mind. He had just seen the love of his life.
On an ordinary Sunday service at the United Reform Church in Bramhall, Paul’s eyes were locked on the beguilingly beautiful girl sitting opposite him in the choir stalls dressed in a distinct turquoise poncho. “I thought she must be an angel” the 44 year-old father of two from Cheshire remembers, “it really was love at first sight.” The service ended and he waited eagerly to see her again the following week. Except she wasn’t there.
Fourteen years later Paul was now engaged, and with his fiancé Gill they flicked through her old family photographs for inspiration for their wedding. Laughing over the old 80’s fashions, suddenly a flash of turquoise caught his eye. There, beneath the dusty, dog-eared pictures was a photo of his angel. Turning to Gill he realised here was his angel, now all grown up and promising to be his forever. “It was the first time I realised that all those dreams, wishes and hopes you have can come true,“ Paul explains, knowing that those dreams were to take a painful turn.
In 2007, after months of agonising back pain, Gill discovered she had a tumour next to her spine. A tumour that was later diagnosed as terminal cancer. The shock was insurmountable, not just for Gill and Paul but for their two sons, Ben and Jamie.
After giving up work, three months passed from that day of diagnosis, enduring the agony but still always looking for hope. Three miles from their family home was St Ann’s Hospice and with courage, Gill agreed to visit their day care facility.
“It was a place of laughter, fun and friendly faces which created its own family of members – the team of nurses and volunteers always knew everyone’s names.” Unfortunately Gill grew progressively less able and eventually became immobile resulting in her requiring 24 hour a day care.
When the day came for full time care, St Ann’s were there and Gill moved in to one of their two residential wards. “The way the [nurses] never judged you, never made you feel like you were overly-concerned, was wonderful. We became so close I felt like I could tell them anything and, more importantly, that they really cared.”
“It was our dream that she’d be well enough to come home for Christmas, but it soon became obvious that wasn’t going to be possible,“ Paul recalls. This wouldn’t stop the determined family living their Christmas traditions and after cooking a roast dinner for his boys, Paul drove to St Ann’s so he and his wife could wrap their presents together. Although now too weak to physically help, the coupled joked about past Christmases together. “I did my usual botch-job on the wrapping,‘ Paul acknowledges.
A week after Christmas, as the snow across Stockport fell, Paul had the difficult task of telling his boys the truth. For the next two weeks Paul was constantly at Gill’s bedside, sleeping on a sofa bed between planning her funeral, reflecting on the life they’d enjoyed together and what they wanted for their sons’ futures. On Wednesday 14 January 2009, Gill Hazelby died at St Ann’s Hospice, with “an almost imperceptibly small smile on her face, a truly angelic, lovely moment” that will stay with the family forever.