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Hospice scores hat trick for patient
Hospice patient and passionate Gunners fan Mark Simmonds received a huge boost from his beloved club after a VIP visit from Arsenal legend, Bob Wilson OBE, on December 1st – just a few days before he sadly passed away. The former Scottish International and Gunners goalie and broadcaster spent 45 minutes chatting to 52-year-old dad Mark, from Kings Langley.
Generous Bob, 74, also brought presents for Mark
– a goalkeeper’s glove, signed by Bob and fellow goalkeeping legends Pat Jennings and David Seaman, and a signed photograph of Bob and former Arsenal Captain Frank McLintock collecting the FA Cup after their 1971 victory over Liverpool.
Bob said: “This was such a simple thing to do for an Arsenal fan who loves the club as much as I do. Mark was a real character and it was a privilege to meet someone who you know has been a fan all these years and to talk football. It was also a real eye- opener for [my wife] Megs and myself to come to The Hospice of St Francis and see what an amazing job all the staff do. Everyone had a smile on their face – it was lovely.”
Fellow football legend Pat Rice, MBE, also heard of Mark’s love for the Gunners and paid him a visit, during which they discussed Arsenal’s past highlights and Pat’s playing career.
Completing a hat trick, the thoughtful London club’s manager, Arsene Wenger, took the trouble to send Mark a letter thanking him for his support for Arsenal over the years and wishing him well.
Mark’s wife Liz, 53, said, “The treatment and compassion Mark received while in the Hospice will bring great comfort to me in the difficult time ahead. Mark told me on several occasions how privileged he was that Bob and Pat took the time to visit him. He also said that for the first time he didn’t feel like just a number and that is entirely due to the team at the Hospice who couldn’t do enough for him.”
Meet the doctor
Dr Neil Pender, Macmillan
Consultant in Palliative Medicine
The Hospice of St Francis welcomed Macmillan Consultant Neil Pender in June 2015, who joined us from St John’s Hospice in London.
Neil spends four days a week
here and one day with Rennie
Grove Hospice Care. He is
looking strategically at how the
two hospices can work together
more effectively, and how we can
simplify our processes to spend
more time with patients. “If two
independent charities can work
well together it shows they’re highly
functional. We can have a sensible
dialogue to make sure the patient comes first,” he said.
Here at The Hospice of St Francis, Neil particularly enjoys working alongside our specialist community nurses. “I really do admire them. They do an outstanding job,” he added. “I consider myself as support staff for a primarily nurse-led service.”
As a junior doctor Neil worked in a variety of settings, from general practice to A&E, which set him in good stead for palliative care. “With palliative care you need to know what treatment can be offered to understand the chance of success. If you don’t have enough experience in acute care, it can be difficult to give patients informed choice and guidance,” he explained.
“There is something different in the way that a palliative care team thinks about patients. There’s a big difference between managing a disease and managing the person who has a disease. I consider hospice care as more of an art than a science.”
Thanks to Mira
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Adam Flowerdew and his team from Kohler Mira Ltd (Mira Showers) for supplying and installing, completely free of charge, six brand new thermostatically controlled showers in our Inpatient Unit and Staff Room.
“The care the Hospice gave my step-mum Geraldine Flowerdew and our family was phenomenal,” said Adam, from Hemel Hempstead. “This was my opportunity to give something back and I was delighted to be in a position to be able to help the Hospice.”
Hospice CEO Steve Jamieson commented, “The professionalism demonstrated by the whole Mira Showers team was noted by every member of staff they came into contact with. It was a real pleasure to work with them.”
The Hospice has launched a new diversity strategy, read it at

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