Beryl and Richard’s Story | The Hospice of St. Francis

Beryl and Richard’s Story

Beryl wanted to be at home, and the Hospice made that happen

Beryl Milnes, from Felden near Hemel Hempstead, was 80 when she passed away at home in mid-April during the lockdown. After being diagnosed in 2017 with breast cancer, and receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Beryl was given the all clear in 2018. But sadly, despite only a 10% chance of it coming back, in February 2019 she felt pain in her left arm and the cancer had returned. Since then she was supported by the Hospice. Her husband, Richard, shares their story…

I contacted the Hospice for support and they responded so quickly. Everyone we met there was just so wonderful and caring. Dr Ros Taylor helped Beryl with the pain, and because she was losing movement in her arm she worked with one of the physiotherapists, Marie-Jeanne. Even during the summer, when the Hospice had building work, the team were able to use Egerton Rothesay School to hold support sessions. Soon Beryl had lost all use of her left arm and hand, and one of the nurses began to help us. We would receive calls from the doctors at the weekend, and out of hours, just to see how Beryl was."

“As her condition worsened we were supported more and more at home by the community nurses, including Juliet and Claire. They sorted everything, from the wheelchair, to the loo seat – they even arranged for a hospital bed to be delivered, even though Beryl only used it for one night. We looked forward to their visits. The lovely carers (from the Hospice’s Rapid Personalised Care Service) came every morning and it was such a help. I can’t thank them enough.”

As the Covid-19 pandemic progressed and the lockdown was announced, Richard describes how the team still visited, “The nurses had to wear the masks and protective equipment, but it was ok. I still felt safe. My main worries were of course for Beryl, and also for the Hospice carers; who had young families at home. There were endless telephone calls to check how we were doing. It was just wonderful to have that support."

  “Beryl loved our home. And the nurses made sure it stayed that way – it still felt like home. Beryl always said that she only wanted to leave our home at the end of her days, and her wish was granted. She wanted to stay out of hospital, and the Hospice made that happen. She passed away peacefully at home, with me and our two sons by her side, along with the support of two Hospice carers. I cannot emphasise how very special it was for us to have Beryl at home. Under the current circumstances I couldn’t imagine Beryl being in a hospital with the chance of us not being allowed to be with her. For this we are truly, truly grateful.”

“It was a privilege to have been married to Beryl. She was desperately trying to hold on for our 50th wedding anniversary this summer. Everyone who met her, never forgot her. She was opinionated, but so, so very kind, loving and caring. Beryl was hugely active in the community with the Church, the local primary school and local politics. Although we couldn’t have the funeral service we would have had under normal circumstances, on the day of the funeral we drove by our Church, Holy Trinity in Leverstock Green, and there were so many people, who couldn’t attend but who wanted to pay their respects, standing along the roadside & in the Churchyard.  My 8 year old granddaughter stopped counting at well over 100. Beryl touched so many hearts.”

“My sons and I decided that rather than flowers, we’d ask for donations to be made to the Hospice. When it’s safe to hold a larger service we plan to have a celebration of Beryl’s life, but by creating a Hospice tribute page it meant people could, if they wished, make dedications at this time.”

Having set up a Hospice tribute page in memory of Beryl, family and friends have donated an amazing £19,500. At a challenging time, these donations are incredibly important to help fund our community nursing services.

“I’d do anything to help the Hospice, so that other families can have the incredible support and affection we’ve had. They may not like me saying this, but the nurses are true angels. I simply don’t know what we would have done without them.”