Martin's story

My brother, John, was the sort of person who’d do anything for anyone without letting them know – making someone’s life better was all the thanks he needed.

John trained as a teacher before realising his real calling was the priesthood. Whenever he was in a nearby parish he visited patients at Dove House, offering pastoral care and support. I remember him saying that if anything ever happened, Dove House is where he’d want to be. I don’t think either of us ever imagined that’s exactly what would happen.

I enjoyed spending time with John and was hoping he’d take early retirement, before the expected age of 75, so we could start planning some trips. He loved nature and would go bird watching whenever he could. But he also loved his work; he kept saying ‘maybe next year’ whenever the subject of retirement came up.

In 2017 after a routine checkup, John’s dentist noticed a white spot on his tongue. He was sent for tests, and it turned out that John had a very rare cancer of the tongue. After having part of it removed and rehabilitation, he was able to keep working and delivering his sermons (I still couldn’t persuade him to retire!). Then, one evening just after Christmas 2019, I got a knock at the door. John had been in a serious road accident and was in intensive care with injuries so severe that nobody expected him to pull through. Yet somehow, he did.
This time, when I brought up the subject of retirement, he finally said ‘I think you’re right.’ I remember he’d just got the keys to the perfect retirement property when he was diagnosed with a new and very aggressive cancer of the oesophagus.

It just didn’t seem fair. John’s health deteriorated quite rapidly after that. After recovering from the accident, he just didn’t have the strength to fight cancer for a second time.

We both knew that Dove House was the best possible place for him. The care he received there was just amazing. Everyone is so kind and welcoming; as soon as you walk in it’s like having a warm blanket wrapped around you.
The staff took the time to find out all the little things that would make John’s experience as positive as it could be. They learned how he liked his coffee and made sure to put him in a bed next to a window so he could see the bird table. That meant a lot to him – and to me.

I can never thank the staff and volunteers enough for everything they did, and I know John felt the same. In his final weeks he was as comfortable as he could be; he knew that he was loved and cared for.

Leaving a Gift to Dove House in his Will was his way of saying ‘thank you’ to the amazing doctors and nurses while ensuring that Dove House will be around in years to come. Our community wouldn’t be the same if Dove House didn’t exist, so I’m leaving something to the hospice in my Will as well. I want them to know just how much I appreciate them and everything they’ve done for John and me.