Richard and his wife Charlie riding the travelator at Gatwick Airport - something he'd wanted to do since childhood!
Richard Smith has been a Trustee at Rowcroft Hospice since early 2013. He is one of ten people from South Devon who voluntarily make up Rowcroft's Board of Trustees. They are responsible for setting the vision and strategic direction of the hospice and supporting the CEO and his executive team in the implementation and delivery of that strategy and vision.
Richard's wife, Charlie, who he describes as his soul mate, best friend and inspiration was cared for by the hospice. It was following Charlie's death that Richard decided that he wished to contribute to the continuance of our care by becoming a Trustee. Here is his Rowcroft Story...
"Charlie was an inspiration to not just me but all who knew her; as many took the trouble to tell me before and after her death. But she was single-minded too and throughout her twenty-year fight with a body that was clearly built at 5.32pm on a Friday she never complained and continually put others needs before her own.
An example of her single-mindedness was her steadfast refusal to pass over the threshold of Rowcroft or any other hospice. 'If I have to die it is going to be in my own home with you holding my hand' she stated on several occasions. Finally the combined effort of two Consultants and a Specialist Nurse at the Royal Devon & Exeter persuaded her to try Rowcroft for a potentially difficult change in her drug regime. Reluctantly she agreed and checked in to Rowcroft as suggested.
On returning home three days later she said 'you can cancel all the arrangements for me to die at home; I want to end my days at Rowcroft with the family all around me. It is such a jolly place with such a happy atmosphere.' I personally think it was the lunchtime drinks trolley that did it; she loved a glass or two of sherry and took great delight in drinking them in front of me - such benefits not being available to carers and husbands! That alone made her chuckle with delight.
We were both in awe of the service we received. Having been fortunate in life and having stayed in many plush hotels; their service paled into insignificance compared with what the staff and volunteers at Rowcroft delivered from the first moment we arrived. Warmth, humour, love, support were all there in abundance.
Even parties were encouraged. Charlie was in for another drug change at the time of the Grand National, fortunately perhaps for other patients, she was in a single room as half of my enormous family turned up with pizzas and drinks to watch the races. They knew Charlie's spirits were low when she came in; after the race and everyone had departed she was ebullient, full of smiles, and had me wondering if she was ill at all. It was much the same in her final two days when we were all there again. It made her final hours as happy as they possibly could be, hearing their usual happy laughter and family banter. We took it in turns to sit with her through the night while others caught some zeds on the beds kindly put up in the lounge for us by staff. They and I will always be eternally grateful for that.
I vowed to Charlie that I would do what I could to repay Rowcroft, their Doctors, their staff and their volunteers for what they had done for both her and the family and still do for me. In January of last year I was appointed as a Trustee of Rowcroft and can now thus support all that they so ably do.
Thank you Rowcroft for allowing me that privilege and for everything you did for Charlie and so willingly do for patients, carers and family alike. You really are living your ideal of taking care further."