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3rd March 2020

You think it's only happening to you

Midnight Walk has had a special place in Will Love’s memory since his wife, Lynn, tackled the event in 2017.

Lynn [pictured with St Helena physiotherapist Nicola] had been referred to St Helena’s rehabilitation team the previous year after losing mobility in her leg and part of her arm due to an aggressive and incurable brain tumour. Her initial concerns faded after visiting The Hospice for sessions with one of the physiotherapists, and she soon became involved in Day Therapies groups led by the rehabilitation team to help with movement and coordination. Will explained:
Physiotherapist and Lynn Love

“Lynn really enjoyed going to the group and physio sessions, she looked forward to attending them and was always happier after each session. Her main conversation generally had been with me, so to be able to go there and talk with the team and the other patients was good for her.

“The day sessions were also beneficial for me because it gave me an opportunity to get out too and do some shopping or play a round of golf.”

With her confidence boosted, Lynn gathered together a team of family, friends, work colleagues from The Gilberd School, and St Helena occupational therapists, to support around the Midnight Walk, raising more than £5,000. Lynn said ahead of the event in May 2017:

“I decided it was about time to give something back so I thought I would see whether I could drum up some support from friends who are taking part on the St Helena Hospice Midnight Walk. I'm delighted to say I have quite a group of colleagues, friends and family who have volunteered to push me around in a wheelchair.

“The majority of the funds needed to run the hospice come from donations, so this is my chance to give something back, it's the least I can do. It's an amazing resource and the things that I do there are just a few of what they can offer. Dig deeply in your pockets - like me, you never know when you are going to need their help.”

Lynn and her colleagues [pictured] had a successful and emotional night at the event, made even more memorable when Lynn stood up from her wheelchair at the end to take a triumphant step over the finish line, assisted by two occupational therapists from St Helena.

Over the next year Lynn stayed at The Hospice on three occasions to manage her symptoms, which again was a support for Will who was caring for Lynn around the clock. He hadn’t been sleeping well because Lynn would need him in the night or he was awake waiting for something to happen. He explains:

“St Helena was the main support. As a family we are very close and the support provided by my children and their partners and our close family was amazing. However they all had their own lives to lead with job and family commitments.

Lynn Love and colleagues at the Midnight Walk

“You never think about The Hospice when everything’s ok. The moment we first visited for physio, Lynn hated it because it was the idea that it was terminal. I think Lynn thought it was a scary place; I didn’t, although I hadn’t been told I was going to die.

“Once we’d been a couple of times she was quite happy going in. Staff reassured her and told her it isn’t just a place where people come to die and I think that reassured her in a way because she was always quite happy going back.

“It was a massive sense of relief. I would say it changed our lives, it certainly changed mine because it gave me some relief and assurance that she had some professional support.

“It gave Lynn something to look forward to on a weekly basis, otherwise if we hadn’t had the visits to the physio and the group sessions to look forward to, we would have been sitting at home for two years on our own feeling isolated.

“You can try to do things but obviously you’re very restricted in what is possible, but when you go to St Helena you appreciate how caring and supportive all the staff are.

“Having known Lynn since we were 14, she dealt with this illness far better than I imagined she would, but then how do you deal with knowing you are going to die?

“I’m not really sure what we would have done without St Helena.”

Lynn died peacefully at Alderwood Care Home in July 2018, surrounded by her loved ones.

Will has since attended one of St Helena’s bereavement groups:

“You realise when something like this happens to you, that you think, incorrectly, that it’s only happening to you. It’s a very insular thing because you are on your own all the time. I think people can’t appreciate how lonely it is, so the groups are really good. It was so helpful to talk to people who found themselves in the same situation as myself

Will Love

“It was a long illness for us both and we spoke about the future on numerous occasions. Lynn often said to me ‘when I am gone you can’t waste your life; I will not have the opportunity so you need to get out and do things’. If I were to sit at home all the time and do nothing it would be an insult to Lynn’s memory and the life we had.

You may spot Will [pictured] on Midnight Walk social media, posters and billboards in the run up to the event. He will be taking part in the Midnight Walk this year, walking alongside Lynn’s colleagues from The Gilberd School, who will be walking in Lynn’s memory.

“The year Lynn took part in her wheelchair with the Gilberd team, I was a marshal with my friend along the route and everyone taking part looked like they were having a great time. When Lynn went past it really was quite emotional.

“The Gilberd School has been fantastic. I sponsored them last year and I’m looking forward to taking part with them this year, if they will have me. If they’re all dressing up I will put a shell suit on or something!

“I really don’t think people appreciate what St Helena offers, I certainly didn’t, and you only get to appreciate what it does offer if it affects your life. It’s an amazing organisation. The care Lynn was given and the support offered to me was amazing. I’m just really thankful they were there for us because it did make such a difference to the quality of life we both had.” 

This story may not be published elsewhere without express permission from St Helena Hospice.


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