St Francis 30for30: ‘You don’t go in there and die, you go in there and get support’

16:04 16 June 2014

Michael and Beverley Simmonds

Michael and Beverley Simmonds


“I knew nothing about the hospice before this happened. You hear ‘hospice’ and you think it’s somewhere people go to die - but it’s so much more than that.”

Chris Nugent from Hornchurch isn’t exactly the kind of person you’d imagine benefiting from hospice support. As a healthy 68-year-old with a husband whose cancer is happily in remission, you might think a hospice and its connotations would be something she’d want to steer clear of.

But Saint Francis Hospice – somewhere Chris describes as “jolly” – isn’t just about end-of-life care.

Chris goes to the monthly carers’ drop-in session, mostly “for emotional support” – though, she adds, “listening to other carers, my situation is really easy”.

Her husband, who is recovering from pancreatic cancer, visits more regularly – once a week.

“Mike goes to the hospice day unit weekly for a social morning with others in his situation, and lunch.

“He can have massage, reflexology and other alternative therapies if he wishes, and also occupational therapy.

“He does painting while others make cards and do silk scarf painting, et cetera.”

Chris adds: “It’s great – he looks forward to it.

“You don’t go in there and die, you go in there and get support - it’s a much jollier place than you think.”

Collier Row pensioner Beverley Simmonds relies a lot more heavily on support from the hospice – but like Chris she’s full of praise for the Havering-atte-Bower centre.

Caring for husband Michael, 69, involves helping him get up in the mornings and driving him around.

“Virtually everything has changed” since he was diagnosed three years ago with Multiple System Atrophy, a condition Beverley describes as “Parkinson’s with extras”.

“He’s losing his voice - he was always a chatterbox so that frustrates him,” she says.

“He can’t drive anymore so I have to drive everywhere. It’s not quite the same.

“We used to love our holidays. We can’t go on holidays any more – he doesn’t like to be too far from home.”

Again, the support provided by the hospice goes far further than you might expect.

“They really do see that if they look after the carers, there’s somebody to look after the patient,” she says.

“I’ve got nothing but praise for them.”

Both Beverley and Chris reserve special praise for hospice staff Briony Townsend and Sandy Lawless, who run the carers’ drop-in sessions they find so helpful.

Nobody wants to be in a situation where they have to turn to hospice care, but Saint Francis Hospice can be there to offer support - in more ways than you might imagine.

Beverley sums it up: “It’s tough, but Saint Francis are very good.”

• Last week (June 9-15) was Carers Week, a seven-day campaign aimed at raising awareness about the lives of carers.

Read more:

St Francis 30for30: Mall manager hot foots it for charity
St Francis 30for30: Raise funds by throwing a party
St Francis 30for30: Havering v Barking and Dagenham in student catwalk challenge


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Lee Burkwood is the Green Party GLA candidate for Havering and Redbridge

The Green Party has chosen 25-year-old Lee Burkwood to fight for the Havering and Redbridge seat in May’s London Assembly election.

Emergency services were called to Upper Rainham Road at about 1am. Picture: Google Maps

A man is fighting for his life after a head on collision in the early hours of this morning that also left two others in hospital.

The sorry state of Romford Market at 11.30am on Saturday November 14

Plans for a £2million project to revamp Romford Market have been called in by two opposition leaders.

Darrell Page and Olivie Crowther are collecting chocolate boxes to donate to foodbanks before Christmas

A couple are collecting boxes of chocolate from all over Essex to donate to foodbanks across the borough for Christmas.

Wykeham Primary Schhol in Hornchurch. Pictures: Google Maps

Disgruntled residents have set up a petition for improved road safety to stop dangerous school-run drivers in their street.

Demolition work has started on the site of Romford's new leisure centre

Demolition work started at the site of Romford’s new leisure centre on Friday with building work is expected to start early in the new year.

Junior doctors at a rally in central London last month

Junior doctors will not strike today after the British Medical Association (BMA) reached an agreement with the Government to resume negotiations.

There were an estimated 43,900 excess winter deaths in England and Wales in 2014/15, the highest number since 1999/00, official figures show.

Older residents in Havering are advised to take care as the weather gets colder, as a new report by the Office for National Statistics reveals a surge in winter deaths last year.

Most read news

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


Win a beautiful monochrome tunic dress with Great British Life!

Great British Life is offering a beautiful monochrome silk tunic dress worth £179 to one lucky reader

Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder