Manchester-born Gerard had settled in Sheffield with his partner Rachel, and led a full and active life. He was the picture of health, he was passionate about politics and supporting the NHS and his family and friends were hugely important to him. Gerard wrote music and was in a band, he enjoyed performing and also returned to Manchester to watch his team FC Utd play whenever he could.
It came as a massive shock when Gerard was diagnosed with terminal cancer in January 2011 aged 26. He remained active throughout his illness until he was admitted to St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield where he received excellent care. He later transferred to St Ann’s Hospice in Little Hulton to enable family to visit.
Here his sister, Anne, shares their story and experience of St Ann’s.
The staff at St Ann’s were incredible, and their acts of kindness are simply too numerous to mention.
They have a balance of professionalism with genuine compassion and we’ll never be able to repay them. They made it possible for Rachel and other family members to stay with him, and nothing was too much trouble. They even arranged takeaway and wine for us one night as we’d been living on sandwiches.
A defining moment for me was when a senior consultant gathered us to tell us the end was imminent. He stood up, walked over to my mum and embraced her, telling her he was so sorry. It was such an unexpected and sensitive thing to do and it showed us that he saw Gerard as an individual: a spouse, son, brother, uncle and friend who meant so much to each of us. We were incredibly moved and comforted by that gesture.
On 23rd May 2012, Gerard died peacefully with his mum and Rachel by his side. He was never alone for one second during his final days and we will be forever grateful for that.