Watching his wife die of the cruel Motor Neurone Disease broke the heart of Chris Brock, but not his spirit thanks to the arm of support and comfort he received from Norfolk Hospice, Tapping House.
His wife, Ruth, died of the illness in September 2012, four days after their 17th wedding anniversary, aged just 43.
For Chris, 53, who is a specialist biomedical scientist in haematology and blood transfusion at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the hospice reached out to support his wife in her time of need and himself when he had to come to terms with her death.
Now Chris is as determined as ever to support the hospice as a volunteer in the future and, for the second year running, will be raising funds by taking part in the Grand East Anglian Run, on Sunday, May 4.
As soon as Ruth was diagnosed with MND in November 2011, the couple were put in touch with the hospice, where Ruth was a day patient and received physiotherapy and relaxation treatment. “The disease was so advanced, there was very little we could do,” said Chris, who met his wife, through the King’s Lynn Baptist Church.
“There was total support by every member of staff that Ruth and I came into contact with. They all knew us by name, from the handyman to the chief executive. Everyone made time for us and we felt a sense of belonging, just like a family,” said Chris, who lives at Elvington, Springwood Estate.
“The hospice was such a marvellous place. During such a sad time, it was a positive experience with them because they cared so much.”
In August 2012, Ruth suffered a cardiac arrest, and she spent two nights in hospital and then returned home, where necessary equipment such as a hospital bed had been set up in the couple’s lounge.
“Ruth needed 24-hour support, which we got through a combination of the NHS and the hospice, Someone from the hospice visited every other day and helped her with relaxing and gave her nursing care, keeping her as comfortable as possible. It was at the time when the Hospice at Home service was in its infancy,” said Chris.
“Ruth was young – she knew she was dying and while she could still speak, we planned every detail of her funeral. She had her wishes right to the end.”
After Ruth’s death, the hospice supported Chris with bereavement counselling through its bereavement co-ordinator, Louise Clark. “Louise would talk to me about how I was coping with grief and provided me with a list of people I could call. She would help by talking through my feelings and gave me reassurance. I also had relaxation sessions,” said Chris.
“Although my counselling has ended I would not say my relationship with the hospice has too. I am looking forward to taking part in GEAR again this year, just like last year.
“And I am happy that the hospice is moving to Hillington. It will make life easier for me to be a volunteer in the future without the emotional attachment of the building at Snettisham.”
Chris is also pleased that after his wife’s death, his niece, Emily Hemsworth, took up a role about a year ago in the hospice fundraising team. “Emily was touched by the way her auntie was looked after,” said Chris.
n Anyone who would like to support the Lynn News Help Our Hospice Appeal can find out more details on Page 27.