A Locking mum and her two daughters will join hundreds of other women at the Moonlight Beach Walk in September to support a charity they describe as ‘absolutely amazing’.
Beverley Merchant will unite with Gemma Jones and Kelly Perkins to walk as Pete’s Pitstop Girls in memory of their husband and father Pete Merchant.
Pete was cared for by Weston Hospicecare during his battle with oesophageal cancer in 2018, and died aged 61 at the hospice’s inpatient unit in Uphill last December.
His family – who say they ‘knew nothing about the hospice’ prior to needing its support – say they were so impressed by the care provided to mechanic Pete that they are now keen to do what they can to help raise money for the charity.
Beverley says she was impressed by the support offered to her and Pete from day one, heaping praise on community nurse Chantal for her expertise during daily visits to their home, as well as easing the strain of dealing with hospitals and doctors, before quickly securing a hospice bed for Pete when the time came.
She said: “I knew nothing about the hospice before, but Chantal was brilliant right away. We had daily visits, and she helped with medication and sorted appointments, and arranged a bed at the hospice.
“The hospice itself is an absolutely amazing place. Everyone we met was amazing, from the nurses to the cleaners.
“I had been caring for Pete, but that was all taken out of our hands. It meant I could go from being Pete’s carer to back to being his wife.”
Pete was able to enjoy visits from family members – including his four grandchildren, who he doted on – to say goodbye prior to his admission to the hospice, but died on December 15, four days after he was admitted.
Since then, a number of his family have engaged with counselling from the hospice team, which they say has helped them start to come to terms with their loss.
Inevitably Pete will be at the forefront of their minds when they take to the sand for the Moonlight Beach Walk on 14 September.
However, they are determined to do what they can to raise funds in Pete’s name. Each has been doing their own fundraising, which has been supported by customers at Planet Hair salon in Locking where Beverley works.
She said: “The hospice is invaluable. It does a great job, but it doesn’t get enough funding. That’s why we’re taking part in the Moonlight Beach Walk – we feel we want to do something to help.”
And that view was echoed by Kelly, who added: “It’s important for me to give something back to Weston Hospicecare as they helped our family so much by looking after my dad in his final days and counselling support for us afterwards.
“I want to be able to raise money in his name to help other families through a dark time. I cannot praise hospice staff and volunteers enough for their kindness and support.”
There remains time for other women to sign up to the ladies-only Moonlight Beach Walk for Weston Hospicecare.
The event takes place on Weston beach on 14 September, and offers participants a choice of 5km or 10km routes. The £15 entry fee also includes a personalisable souvenir T-shirt, and a glass of prosecco on the night.
Find out more – or register to take part – at www.westonhospicecare.org.uk/moonlight