3 Dec 2021 Community
Tony Sephton raises vital funds for The Kirkwood helping to buy new uniforms for our nurses
Tony Sephton has raised £2,500 for The Kirkwood following the emotional and devastating loss of his wife Vikki back in April this year. He would like the funds to go towards buying new uniforms for the nurses that work within The Kirkwood family.
Tony, 51, from Dewsbury, has been raising funds for The Kirkwood in memory of his wife, Vikki, who was 53 when she died on the In-Patient Unit at our hospice in Dalton.
Vikki was diagnosed in 2009 with neuroendocrine cancer and had received treatment from various organisations since getting the news. As Vikki’s pain got worse, The Kirkwood Nurses said it might be a good idea to spend some time on our In-Patient Unit so they could re-assess her medication. Vikki travelled to the Dalton site and was admitted. It soon became clear that Vikki’s condition was more serious than anyone had known, and despite the receiving the best possible care, she died a week later.
On remembering that moment, Tony said: “Vicky was only with The Kirkwood for a very short period of just a week. The Kirkwood staff had seen that she was taking different medication. It wasn’t just regular medication and they suggested that she went in for a re-assessment.
“We had been supported through local teams for emotional support for around five or six weeks. We then had to get even more help when she was struggling with her pain at home. Sadly, when she got into The Kirkwood, the nurses realised how bad she was. Vikki was a battler and took a lot of it on and didn’t tell people much about how much pain she was in.”
Having spent time with Vikki at our hospice, Tony remembers one specific memory of him, and his family members sat with Vikki in our gardens. Tony explained how significant a moment this was in both his and Vikki’s lives.
He said: “On the day Vikki died in April, it was quite sunny and warm, there were three of us there visiting her; me, my son and my sister-in-law. We stepped outside with our cups of tea and enjoyed the sun. When I went back inside, I said to the nurse it was grand outside and it’s was a shame Vikki couldn’t see that. The staff said we could get her outside to see it! I just looked at Vikki’s bed and thought how the heck are they going to get that through the doorway.
“To my amazement they managed to do it and we had three hours with Vikki sat outside, and for one moment she opened her eyes, and she would have seen how stunning everything looked. It was so peaceful and comforting to be just sat there and have that moment with her in that space.
“If Vikki hadn’t have gone into The Kirkwood she would have been admitted back into hospital and she wouldn’t have had that same experience of being sat there in the garden.”
Tony continued, describing how brilliant the care that Vikki received was: “I would say the care Vikki received was outstanding, especially in the circumstances with the team having to deal with a global pandemic. It was hard at times to understand why more family members couldn’t come and see her, but you had to accept it.
“You are very quickly made to feel welcome and don’t feel like you are encroaching on people’s time. The staff at every level in The Kirkwood was absolutely superb. It wasn’t the fact that they were just looking after Vikki, it didn’t matter who was visiting, they had the same attitude with everyone – that nothing was ever too much.
“I remember when we checked in – and I say checked in because I said to Vikki it’s like coming to a hotel – it didn’t feel like I thought a hospice would feel. It wasn’t clinical it wasn’t depressive or negative, it was about caring for a human being and providing the best possible care too, it was positive and reflective.”
Following Vikki’s death, Tony wanted to raise some funds for The Kirkwood to say thank you for caring for her. However, he wanted to buy something tangible and specific that would be useful to the nurses. He came up with the idea of buying them new uniforms.
He said: “The uniform idea came from the fact I wanted to raise money for The Kirkwood but give something tangible to them too, something that would be useful. My first thought was to pay for a coffee machine in the staff kitchen or something. I didn’t just want to buy staff flowers and chocolates, I wanted it to be better than that. Joanna from fundraising said that The Kirkwood were looking to purchase some new uniforms, but it was going to cost the charity a lot of money. I said that was perfect and I would help to get The Kirkwood on their way for them to buy them.”
Tony’s fundraising activities included making a personal donation of £500. His place of work, Howdens in Garforth, also contributed of £1,000. Tony also donated a signed and certified Manchester United shirt, which was sold on eBay for £460. Tony won this himself after making the winning bid as he tried to push the price even higher for the shirt.
On raising the money, Tony said: “Howdens have been brilliant with me; they are an amazing company to work for. When Vikki died, I spoke to my area manager, Nigel. I got a call off the regional manager, Ian, and I got a lovely message on my phone from the company Chief Exec. They all offered emotional and financial support, which was unbelievable. I felt supported straight away from Howdens.
“Regarding the shirt, Vikki’s nephew is the kit lad at Manchester United and he helped to get a donation from the club towards my fundraising efforts. They gave us a signed shirt which was fantastic, and I was eagerly awaiting what it might raise, I saw it got to £450 and I thought it was worth more than that and there were twelve hours to go on the sale. So I put a bid in for £460 thinking that someone else would come in at a higher price. I thought if I win, I win, even though I don’t like football and couldn’t tell you a single name on the shirt. I also thought it would be a funny story if I won it, but it also would mean a lot to us because it’s for a good cause.
“I just donated the shirt straight back to The Kirkwood. The Kirkwood were great in liaising with me on how I wanted to raise the money for the charity,
“We also raised around £750 through Vikki’s obituary Just Giving Page.”
Tony insists that he will continue to support The Kirkwood.
He said: “I haven’t got plans to do anything specific next year yet, one thing I would like to do is walk from Land's End to John o' Groats with my mum, who is 72 next year. She was hoping to do it this year, but Covid-19 has got in the way.
“I would only be able to do a bit of it where she is going to do it all. She has just recently walked the width of Wales, which is 180 miles, and she did that as a training exercise in readiness for next year.”
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