Jeremy, Hannah and Martha’s Story

Hartlepool dad and husband Jeremy Lakey was cared for in Alice House.

His wife Hannah and daughter Martha told us Jeremy’s story and all about how they – along with friends and family – support the Hospice in his memory.

It struck a chord with me that care of that quality - with such respect and dignity should be available to every person in that situation - but that funds need to be raised to be able to do that.

Hannah Lakey

“Jeremy or ‘Jez’ was the life and soul of the party; full of fun and laughter. He loved sport and was the Captain of the Hartlepool Caledonians Hockey Club. He ran for pleasure and at the age of thirty four in October 2010, just after doing his fifth Great North Run, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colorectal Cancer. This was just weeks before our daughter, Martha was born.

The next three years were a relentless cycle of Chemo and Radiation Therapy and Jez was fortunate to be granted Cetuximab – a life prolonging drug that gave us precious extra time together as a family.

In May 2014, Jez was in extreme pain that could not be controlled and that is when Alice House first came into our lives. Jez was reluctant at first as he, like many, thought that a Hospice was simply about end of life care, but with some persuasion and when the pain became too much, he agreed to go into Alice House for help to control his pain.

From day one, it was clear that Alice House was not remotely what Jez – or I for that matter had expected. It felt like a home from home, from the doctors to the Catering Team; every member of staff was warm and welcoming. The relaxed and informal atmosphere meant that for the first time in months, he felt safe and his pain was finally under control; we spent a lot of those two weeks sitting in the wonderful Hospice gardens, enjoying the sunshine together with Martha, until he was able to come home.

Sadly, by the end of August, Jeremy’s health deteriorated rapidly and because of his time at Alice House, we decided that that is where he would be best cared for.

Alice House allowed us to spend Jez’s final weeks feeling protected and cared for. I cannot truly express the difference that Alice House made during those final days; I was kept informed and updated on every aspect of Jeremy’s care and both myself and Martha will be forever grateful for the support and understanding of every member of the team that looked after us as a family and continued to offer us support when Jeremy sadly passed away at the end of August 2014.

Whilst spending time in Alice House with Jeremy, I can remember reading some literature that highlighted the financial costs of running the Hospice and how the funds raised were allocated.

It struck a chord with me that care of that quality – with such respect and dignity should be available to every person in that situation – but that funds need to be raised to be able to do that.

Since Jez died, we have supported Alice House as much as we can to help them look after other families like ours. We have taken part in various fundraising activities over the years. My first was the Moonlight Walk, a lovely gentle stroll, meeting lots of other Hospice supporters along the way and I even did dry January once (not sure I could do it again) but as my friends and family were so convinced I wouldn’t manage it, they were very generous in their donations.

From an early age, Martha has wanted to take part too and has had a lot of fun over the years taking part in some of the fantastic Hospice events. She first took part in the Santa Fun Run with one of Jez’s best friends and sporting her very own Alice House t-shirt sponsored by my employer – she raised over £1,000 for that which she was so happy about!

She has attended fun days with obstacle courses, Christmas fayres and carol services – you name it – but her absolute favourite to date has to be the Colour Run last year. The smile on her face said it all – she had an absolute blast! She also gets to meet other children who have had family cared for by Alice House and is so grateful to everyone who sponsors and supports her in her efforts.

Jez was much loved by his family and friends and we all appreciate the care that he was given by Alice House. As a thank you, they too have taken part in many fundraising activities in his name – big challenges such as the Three Peaks Challenge, ice bucket challenges and both his sister and his friends have continued to do the Great North Run on his behalf for Alice House.

These efforts, combined with the smaller, quieter things such as Memory Bricks, Forget Me Nots and of course the Trees of Remembrance at Christmas and the Lottery, hopefully help to make a difference too.

It means a lot to us to know we can support Alice House to say thank you in some small way for a kindness that we can’t ever repay and to know that we have helped Alice House to offer the same amazing care to other families like ours in the future.

Jeremy is a very big miss – always will be, but we were lucky to have him. He was one of life’s characters and literally filled a room with laughter wherever he went so sadness isn’t something he would be happy with; live life to the full was a phrase that was made for him.” ■

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Hartlepool Hospice Ltd (known locally as Alice House Hospice and formerly Hartlepool & District Hospice)
Registered office: Alice House, Wells Avenue, Hartlepool, TS24 9DA.