About Rowcroft

What Rowcroft Means to Me: a daughter’s story

Torquay dancer Zoe Nickless, 27, sadly lost her mum Susan Lee to cancer in 2007. A talented performer and enthusiastic supporter of the hospice, here Zoe talks candidly about her mum and why Rowcroft will always have a special place in her heart.

"My mum’s laugh was that dirty cackle that couldn't help but make you laugh too. It was so infectious and it’s one of my favourite memories of her. She was really bubbly and laughed all of the time, even when she probably wasn't suppose to! Mum was a hairdresser in Newton Abbot and she decided to start taking me to dance lessons when I was two years old to help me socialise with other kids. I guess you could say that I got the bug for it, because 25 years later, I’m still dancing.

On May 3rd 2007, mum was admitted to the inpatient unit at Rowcroft Hospice. She was fighting cancer and I was told to expect that she wouldn’t last the night. I had just turned 21 and it was the worst time of my life, but the care shown to us by the nurses at the hospice was just amazing. That first night that I was there, at 2am, one of the nurses came and sat with me. She was asking me about my mum and letting me know what was going to happen in the coming hours. I looked up at the clock and 30 minutes had passed. I asked her what time she finished her shift and she just said ‘half an hour ago’. That’s why Rowcroft will always have a special place in my heart, because they will always go the extra mile in taking care of people when they’re at their most vulnerable. I needed someone to be there with me and my mum and that nurse knew it. She stayed with me, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. She cared. Mum made it until the morning and even though the doctors had expected her not to last one night, she passed away on May 6th...she always was stubborn!!

Susan Lee and a young Zoe

In 2009, I was inspired to put on a show to raise money for Rowcroft to say thank you for the care that they gave to mum and I. It raised £3500. Fast forward to 2013 and we have just performed our second charity show, ‘Never Forget’. I’ve been dancing at the Babbacombe Theatre for 16 years now and am lucky to have some talented and generous friends. They all donated their time to help create a variety show filled with comedy, music, singing, dancing and magic. At last count, Never Forget had raised another £3200 for the hospice and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved, including my husband Ben. He’s a comedian so he took part in the show too. He never got to meet mum, as we met in the year that she died, but we’ve just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and I know she would have approved!

One day, we’ll have a family of our own and I can only hope I’ll be as good a mum as she was. I have a video of my first Christmas with my family and I love to sit and watch it now and then. Sometimes I cry sad tears, sometimes I cry happy tears, but it’s my mum. She might have been sitting there with a ladder in her tights and lipstick on her teeth, but she was a doting mother and my best friend. She inspires me to one day be to my children what she was to me....the best mum in the world.

Thanks to the Rowcroft nurses, my mum died with dignity and with her loved ones at her side. Please support our local hospice so that more families can experience their wonderful care when they need it most."

If you have been moved by Zoe's story and would like to support Rowcroft Hospice, please make a one-off donation or sign-up to make a regular donation.

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