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Romford man opens his garden as a thank you to St Francis Hospice in memory of his wife

PUBLISHED: 10:00 10 July 2013

Richard Pocock in the garden with his coat of arms

Richard Pocock in the garden with his coat of arms

Archant

Richard Pocock has always been a firm believer in giving something back to those who have helped him.

Jason, Josh and Harry Windass try to hook a duck Jason, Josh and Harry Windass try to hook a duck

“When my father-in-law had Alzheimer’s, my wife and I worked hard to help run fun days for the charity,” he said.

“We ran stalls and did a range of events to raise money for charity.”

He did exactly that on Sunday when he opened his garden in Seymour Road, Romford, in aid of St Francis Hospice.

The fundraiser was in memory of wife Gwen, who died from cancer in May last year.

Richard, 69, said: “This is the first fundraiser that I have done without Gwen.

“Normally she is always there by my side but I know that she would have been there in spirit.”

The open garden was his way of saying thank you to the Havering-atte-Bower hospice, which cared for his beloved wife during her last days.

“They made all the difference in the world because they meant that she could stay in her home surrounded by her family and friends,” he said.

“That was exactly what Gwen wanted, she was very much a family person.”

Gwen, 62, was diagnosed with cancer just 18 months before her death, but she was determined not to let it get to her.

Richard explains: “Gwen was brilliant. She was one of those people who always faced up to their problems and she was hopeful at first and then afterwards she realised it wasn’t meant to be.”

He added: “She asked me at one stage if I wanted her to go in a hospice, but I told her ‘no’ and that is what she wanted as well.”

The hospice arranged for Gwen to be cared for by a team of nurses in the comfort of her own home.

“Gwen was a very independent person and the nurses did everything for her, Richard said.

“It made things a lot easier, she still maintained her dignity.”

Richard decided to organise the open garden earlier this year.

He said: “I was finding things really hard and I still find things difficult even now, but organising the open garden gave me something to focus on.

“Gwen and I were both into our garden and we enjoyed redesigning it and doing lots of work on it.”

More than 100 people turned up to explore the beautiful themed garden.

One of the highlights of the event was a plaque with the coat of arms of Richard’s ancestor, Admiral George Pocock.

Richard created the plaque after researching his family tree and finding out that his ancestors could have been related to Sir Francis Drake.

He said: “A lot of people find it quite funny –it was through marriage rather than blood relation.

“We will never know 100 per cent, but I think I am at least 99.9 per cent sure.”

Richard added: “Gwen knew about the connection with Francis Drake and she found it interesting.

“She would have found the whole thing with the plaque really funny.”

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