A family pair have signed up to take on Weston Hospicecare’s Mendip Challenge after the hospice provided ‘unfaltering’ support for their husband and father.

Sandra Barton, and her son Sam, will take to the Somerset hills on Sunday 2 June to raise money for Weston Hospicecare after it provided expert and compassionate care to her husband Robert.

He died at home in August last year after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in December 2016.

Robert was visited by hospice community nurses to help manage his condition but he also attended the inpatient unit on several occasions to bring symptoms under control, often leaving with a renewed sense of positivity and comfort.

Sandra says the hospice supported Robert and the whole family from diagnosis to bereavement.

She said: “In September 2016, my husband went for tests and scans as a result of health concerns, breathlessness and fatigue. In December 2016, he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. The prognosis was not good as it was in the advanced stages so our only option was palliative care.

“From this moment on Weston Hospicecare supported us unfalteringly. The community nurses visited on a regular basis, offering support and advice as well sorting out medications. My husband needed more and more support and became less mobile because of his breathlessness.

“He was admitted to the hospice as an inpatient on several occasions to tweak medication within a safe environment and to generally care for him. After every stay, he returned home more able to cope with a renewed positivity.

“I cannot imagine how any of us would have coped without the hospice throughout this time. Every time we went to the hospice, it was like walking into a big hug, both my children have also described it as this. Even after my husband passed away, I have received telephone calls and bereavement advice.

“Weston Hospicecare is so important, I feel privileged to have had their support. The hospice is a calm, safe and extraordinary haven for anybody suffering or facing difficult times, my family wouldn’t have coped without it.

“This is why I am taking part in the Mendip Challenge. I need to say thank you for such support and kindness and words aren’t enough. This is just a small way I feel I can help. This is my first challenge but now I am ready to commit to more.”

Sandra will be taking on the 10-mile course while her son, Sam, is hoping to run the 30-mile course starting from Wells.

The Mendip Challenge is Weston Hospicecare’s flagship fundraising event where hundreds of people walk or run 10, 20 or 30 miles in support of the hospice between Wells and Uphill following the West Mendip Way.

The hospice is calling on people in the community it serves to support the event to make it the most successful ever in what is the charity’s 30th anniversary year.

It costs £4.2million each year to run the hospice and only 20% of this is provided by the NHS, the rest must be raised through shops, donations and fundraising events, like the Mendip Challenge. This means fundraising events and community support are vital.

More than 270 people have already signed up to take on the Mendips this year and organisers have produced a training guide for each route distance to help participants prepare appropriately for the challenge. This can be downloaded from the hospice’s dedicated Mendip Challenge page on their website.

The event is dog-friendly this year starting and finishing from a new location, which is set to be Weston Cricket Club, to accommodate an after party to mark Weston Hospicecare’s 30th anniversary.

For more information about the event and to sign up, visit westonhospicecare.org.uk/mendip/.  

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