When Allan Hatch’s wife, Beryl, was diagnosed with brain cancer in autumn 2015, she was given eight months to live – but, she actually died six weeks later. Allan initially looked after Beryl at home in Dartford, but she deteriorated really quickly.
“I had a call from ellenor and they said that if I felt I needed additional support, then we could come into the hospice,” says Allan. “We took her in one Sunday and she died the following Saturday. I explained to the nurses there that I’d promised Beryl I’d stay by her side until the end and they helped me to achieve this, letting me sleep in the room with her.”
He continues: “I’ve got nothing but admiration for the team at ellenor. Beryl couldn’t have received better care at the end and I am so grateful for that. She also had a lot of visitors during that last week and they were all made very welcome. I really can’t thank ellenor enough.”
Beryl and Allan were an active couple, with Beryl enjoying long-distance runs and walks. In fact, it was during a walk – from London to Birmingham – that the couple realised that Beryl ‘wasn’t right’. She was finding standing up straight difficult and the couple had to ‘call a halt’ to their walk in Warwick. Problems with her eyes followed and a trip to the optician led to a referral for a scan, which showed five brain tumours.
“We lived life to the full and did masses of things together,” says Allan.
The couple enjoyed fell running together and had also cycled from Land’s End to John O Groats. Allan has since scattered Beryl’s ashes at the top of a mountain on the Welsh borders.
“It was a really special place for us,” says Allan. “When she was ill, I asked her where she’d like her ashes scattered. She replied ‘with my best friend’ and I asked who she meant? And she replied ‘you, silly’. I had already told her that I’d like my ashes scattered on that mountain – so that’s where she wanted to be too. I was over the moon when she said that – it was just such a special moment.”
Allan has fulfilled that promise and he’s also since taken a small amount of Beryl’s ashes to Japan – a location the couple had planned to go together, but had cancelled when Beryl was being treated for breast cancer six years ago (from which she subsequently was given the all-clear).In 2013, during a run in Dartford, Beryl also had a stroke. Doctors doubted she’d walk again – yet she was on her feet in three weeks.
Since her death, the couple’s son, Sam – a member of the Ely Tri Club – has completed a gruelling Ironman challenge, along with his friend Chris Fulford, raising over £3000 for ellenor.
“Mum was always one for big challenges, having completed in numerous marathons, ultra-marathons and long-distance cycle trips,” says Sam. “ellenor cared for Mum and our whole family so well and helped her pass away with such dignity. For that, I am grateful.”
The family has also purchased a leaf on the Memory Tree at ellenor Gravesend.
Allan is part of the West Hill Morris Dancers, which raises money for ellenor – performing at the Summer Fair and the Day Therapy Christmas party. Beryl also got involved with West Hill Morris Dancers a number of years ago.
“At the time it was male dominated but we decided to take her in and we were thrown out of the Morris Ring,” remembers Allan. “The first time she danced with us, she wore a false beard and we had to call her Bob. She danced with us for over 10 years and encouraged other women to join.”
He continues: “We couldn’t have asked for better care for Beryl, so it feels good to give something back. Beryl was my soul mate and I miss her so much – but I’ve good some great friends and family and they are helping me to keep busy.”