4 Aug 2022 Community
Nicola and Cerys’s Midnight Memory Walk story
Back at the start of 2020, the Garner family from Lepton had to deal with the devastating news that their loving father and husband Richard died at the age of 51 from cancer. Now two years on wife Nicola 39 and 13-year-old daughter Cerys took part in our Midnight Memory Walk in July to remember him.
Richard was cared for by The Kirkwood’s dedicated nurses on our In-Patient Unit in Dalton over the Christmas period of 2019, both Cerys and Nicola were able to say their final goodbyes to Richard who died on the morning of 3rd January 2020.
Nicola was incredibly thankful for all that The Kirkwood did for Richard and for her and Cerys in the aftermath of Richard’s death. The Kirkwood provided bereavement counselling and that is a service which Nicola appreciated that she was able to access.
On that time of their lives, Nicola said: “Richard was diagnosed with cancer in 2019, he was admitted onto The Kirkwood’s In-Patient Unit in Dalton just before Christmas 2020, he sadly died on the 3rd of January that year.
“We had Christmas in The Kirkwood, they were amazing with us and made it special for our daughter Cerys who was 11 at the time.
“As a family, we were absolutely dreading Christmas – we didn’t know what to expect, however Christmas was the opposite of what we expected at The Kirkwood. We had such a good time and laughed so much. We don’t have any sad memories; they are all just happy and fun.
“One of my favourite memories was on Christmas Eve when Santa and the choir visited The Kirkwood. Cerys’s eyes lit up as Santa handed her a gift, it was such a special moment for us.
“On Christmas Day, we were able to spend quality time together as a family. Richard and I watched Cerys open all of her presents and throughout the day the nurses would keep popping in to our room to pull crackers with us. It was great.”
Richard and Nicola had been together for 15 magical years before getting married, but after hearing about his diagnosis they finally decided to tie the knot. The day was very special for the whole family as Cerys was able to be a bridesmaid something she had always wanted to be.
Cerys was 11 at the time of Richard’s death and is now 13, she has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and a visual impairment but copes remarkably well and is a real credit to her mum and dad. She accompanied Nicola on the 6 mile walk, Cerys is a very inspirational teenager because after Richard’s death she raised over £700 for The Kirkwood by walking 26 miles over several days and weeks.
Nicola added: “Cerys had been asking Richard and I to get married for many years. She’s a real girly girl and really wanted to be a bridesmaid and wear a beautiful dress for the day.
“People think of death when they hear the word hospice, but it’s not like that at all, the care is always there for you, it isn’t just about the time you spend at the hospice, it continues for as long as you need it.
“The Kirkwood will always be special to us. The people there became our friends; I used to look forward to seeing everyone. No matter what their role is, everyone makes such a difference. Seeing their smiley and friendly faces just meant so much. In the future, I would like to volunteer at The Kirkwood, in hospitality, and make a difference to other families as they did for us.”
On going on the Midnight Memory walk in July, Nicola said: “We enjoyed the walk, it was an emotional evening for us all, it is a special event that The Kirkwood put on. We were signed up to do the 2020 walk but it got cancelled due to Covid-19 so we are just vey happy that we got the chance to do it this year.
“Richard would be extremely proud of Cerys and what she has achieved up to now in her life but how she has gone out and proved people wrong. She is a strong girl who is determined to succeed and do the best that she can and I as her mum couldn’t be any prouder of her.”
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