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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Why pensioner Pam will play her role in hospice Walk to Remember

HUNDREDS of women will be taking to Barrow’s streets this month, to help raise vital funds for St Mary’s Hospice. And with the sixth annual Walk To Remember drawing ever closer RACHEL HERMOLLE asks two outpatients, what the charity means to them

DIAGNOSED with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), 75-year-old Pam Williamson finds it difficult to get around without a wheelchair or catch her breath without help from an oxygen concentrator.

But, as a thank you to St Mary’s Hospice for the care she has received, the great-grandmother from Marton, will be mustering all her energy to take part in the seven-mile Walk To Remember on May 18.

“COPD is a disease of the lungs, narrowing the airways and limiting the flow of air, which makes it hard to breathe,” explains Pam.

“I was admitted to the hospice as an inpatient just over a year ago and I now attend regular breathlessness management outpatient sessions. My condition is getting gradually worse, but the hospice help by teaching me breathing techniques, giving medical advice and providing alternative therapies, such Tai Chi.

“The atmosphere and the staff at the hospice are fabulous, they keep on top of my condition and are always willing to go out their way. I wish I had a big bag of money to give them,” she adds.

Unable to walk long distances unaided, Pam will be completing the moonlit walk in a wheelchair.

She said: “I have always been an energetic person and love walking.

“I used to own trail hounds and would take them out for 10 miles every day and walk the Keswick to Barrow every year.

“But because my condition makes it hard to walk long distances, as long as everything goes to plan, my daughter Bev and daughter-in-law Tracey, will be pushing me around the Walk to Remember route.”

As well as offering drop in sessions, the hospice provides home care, day care, complementary therapy, and support and bereavement services, costing approximately £6,000 per day to run.

And although this support and care is beyond price for those who benefit, it is only possible because of the generosity of those who give.

Pam said: “People don’t seem to realise how much the hospice really offer.

“I lost my husband Ted two years ago, and when he found out he was being moved to St Mary’s he refused to say the word hospice.

“Everyone seems to think it is a scary place where people come to die, but it’s much more than that.

“And for people like me it is vital.”

Bernard Haynes, 67, from Barrow, also attends fortnightly, breathlessness management sessions, something which has helped to give him a new lease of life.

He explains: “I developed Legionnaires’ 10 years ago, and since then I have developed a number of other lung problems such as emphysema and asbestosis.

“The hospice offers something different from the mainstream system, placing a big emphasis on really relaxing the body, which I have found extremely beneficial.

“The sessions at St Mary’s have helped me to feel more in control of my diagnosis, improved my sleeping, helped me to relax and the social side is great. It is nice to be around people who really understand what you are going through.

“There would be a big hole in my life now without the hospice,” he adds.

Along with helping to improve his medical condition, the hospice has also helped to lift Bernard’s spirits.

“It is very rare to visit somewhere and hear so many people laughing and chattering – especially a group who have trouble breathing,” he says.

“It is like there is something in the air, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend.

“As a man I find it difficult to use the word lovely but St Mary’s really is.”

The original seven-mile moonlit Walk to Remember starts from Asda, in Barrow, at 10pm on Friday May 18.

And the Walk to Remember Extra, starts from St Mary’s Hospice, Ulverston, at 8.30pm and will cover 11 miles.

The two walks will join into one on Abbey Road, at the checkpoint at the bottom of Dalton Lane, Barrow, where both routes meet.

Both walks cost just £10, and to register call 01229 580305 or visit http://www.stmaryshospice.org.uk/events/walk-to-remember

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