An aunt, grandmother, sister and her daughter will walk Weston Hospicecare’s Moonlight Beach Walk on Saturday 14 September in memory of dad, husband and grandfather Keith O’Shaughnessy.
The Moonlight Beach Walk is a ladies-only fundraising event which sees hundreds of women walk either 5km or 10km on Weston beach in support of the charity.
Many participants traditionally walk in memory of a loved one or a close friend and raise sponsorship to support the charity as part of participating.
Sara O’Shaughnessy, from Weston, will be joined by her mother Janet as well as her sister and niece Alison and Alice Miller. The quartet are walking to raise money for Weston Hospicecare after its nurses cared for Keith in his final days before he died aged 78.
He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer that forms in a type of white blood cell called a plasma cell, in 2014.
His condition worsened in June 2018 after an eye appointment revealed symptoms which led specialist nurses to suspect he had suffered a stroke. He was admitted to Weston Hospicecare in early 2019 before he died on 20 January at the charity’s inpatient unit at Jackson-Barstow House in Uphill.
Sara says there was an overriding sense of calm when she first entered the hospice.
She said: “When we first stepped through the door, we were hit by how calming and homely it felt. Straight away we were all made to feel welcome and supported, and we were reassured that dad had a bed for as long as he needed it.
“My first sight of dad at the hospice was him sleeping peacefully, looking completely at ease for the first time in weeks. A memory that we hold dear and will treasure forever. That is priceless to us.
“Over the course of a couple of days, the old dad began to reappear. He was having conversations and even cracking the odd joke. The staff went out of their way to make dad as comfortable and relaxed as possible, even finding his beloved Shirley Bassey on the radio for him to listen and sing along to.
“Dad deteriorated quite quickly and he passed away nine days after arriving at the hospice. Although his stay was quite short, the impact the staff had on us all as a family was huge and will stay with us forever. Every single member of staff we encountered was amazing, patient, kind and caring.
“No-one was ever too busy to answer our questions or to give us a much-needed hug.
“After dad had passed away we were so well looked after. We were given as much time as we needed with him, nothing was too much trouble. The little touches like the posy of fresh flowers on his pillow will stay with us forever.
“The hospice is such an important place for our area. It feels like a home from home, a big family, and gives people like my dad the chance to get out of the hospital environment and have some peace and quiet with the reassurance that they are well cared for.
“The ongoing support is important too. Knowing that even six months down the line we can contact the bereavement team if we need help or support, gives reassurance and comfort.
“I certainly will be taking on more fundraising over the next few months and years, although no amount of money I can raise will ever be enough to thank the hospice for what they have done for dad and us.”
This year, while retaining the traditional in memory element of the event, organisers have planned plenty of fun across the route too such as a free glass of prosecco, music, sparklers and selfie stations. Non-alcoholic alternatives will be available for those under the age of 18.
It costs £15 for adults and £10 for children to register. All participants are encouraged to raise sponsorship on top too, as the admission fee only covers the cost of the event.
Women wishing to join Sara, her family and hundreds of other ladies taking part in Weston Hospicecare’s Moonlight Beach Walk can register by visiting westonhospicecare.org.uk/moonlight.
To support Sara’s team, Keith’s Girls, people can leave a donation by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/janet-o-shaughnessy.