North London Hospice organises special afternoon tea for dying father’s family farewell

Categories: Care, Featured, and People & Places.

Having the opportunity to spend precious time with a loved one for who time is short is extremely important. North London Hospice recently helped  a family desperate to ensure father and son were able to say their farewells.

Colin Withers had cancer of the throat and as his health deteriorated rapidly over the spring and he became housebound, his family feared he would not be able to meet with his son Neil, one of his four children. His son has Muscular Dystrophy and was unable to gain access to his parents’ home in his wheelchair.

“Time was of the essence,” said Colin’s daughter-in-law Sarah. “Neil hadn’t been able to meet with his dad for about six weeks. I rang so many people to try to get them together. They were sympathetic but couldn’t help. Then I called North London Hospice and spoke to Angela. She said they would help but we couldn’t believe what they did for us.”

Healthcare Assistant Angela Forbes-Ditchman organised an afternoon tea at the hospice in Finchley for the entire family, which enabled them all to spend an afternoon together. “We didn’t have the expertise to move Colin so Angela came to the house and helped us.  We now call her our Angel.”

“It meant so much for Neil and Colin to have time to hold hands and say goodbye face to face. It was the last time the whole family were all together before the day he died and it was such a beautiful afternoon. Neil will be eternally grateful for the help and support that enabled him to spend that time with his father, as will we all.”

Colin, 74, was a devoted family man who spent his working life as a postman for the Royal Mail and liked nothing more than spending time looking after his grandchildren and pottering in his garden.

He and wife Jackie celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in March and were very proud to have enjoyed 50 happy years of marriage.

“It wasn’t quite the day we had hoped for but we were together. Colin was in and out of hospital but it was his wish to stay at home while he could,” said Jackie. But in the last few days he moved to North London Hospice.

“Initially we were worried as you think a hospice is just somewhere you go to die. But it’s an incredible place. We were blown away by the kindness and care we all received. There was space and peace and quiet.”

Jackie added: “Colin liked to look after and help his family and friends. He was always there for you. We have four children and five grandchildren and we were all able to visit him at any time.  Some of the grandchildren are young but were made to feel very welcome.  The end was peaceful and we were all by his side. We couldn’t have asked for more, and in time this will bring us all great comfort.”

More information about North London Hospice is available on its website

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