Colin was born in Manor Park, East London, one of 6 children. When he was 5, the family moved to East Ham and he’s lived there ever since.
Colin was a keen boxer at school and when he was younger he always seemed to be fighting. That all changed when he was 17. He was working in a factory and he spotted a young lady wearing a red headscarf. He said “morning sweetheart” and she just gave him a look and walked away. Colin found his stomach was in knots and he said to himself, “you’re mine”. The next time he saw her he didn’t miss his chance and he asked her out.
The young lady was Brenda, who would go on to be married to Colin for 51 years. He never proposed to her though. He secretly arranged their wedding at the local registry office and told her that a car would turn up for her at 11 o’clock on Saturday morning. He was quietly confident that she would turn up, and luckily enough she did.
After they got married, Colin became a carpenter restoring Grade I and II listed buildings and latterly at Mildmay Hospital in the maintenance team.
During their long, happy marriage Colin and Brenda had 4 children. He now has 3 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren, whom he adores. He also has 3 staffies who all have their own space in his bed at night! He would love to take them out for walks but he can’t any more, as he prostate cancer that has now spread to his bones, mesothelioma, caused by asbestos, and the lung condition COPD. He has also had several heart attacks and has severe arthritis in his hands and knees.
Our Community Palliative Care Team regularly visit him at home and help him manage the pain of his many illnesses. They’ve also arranged for him to have a wheelchair, a new mattress to help support his fragile, painful bones, a stair lift and a high chair so that he can sit and do his ironing as it’s important to him that he stays neat and tidy. The support has been invaluable, he says, and nothing is too much trouble for the Community Team.
Last year one of St Joseph’s Clinical Nurse Specialists suggested that Colin might like to come to Day Hospice one day a week. He thought, why not, I’ll give it a go. These days Colin says he would come every day if he could. He arrives at 10.30, a cup of tea and toast is ready for him and he is pretty much spoilt all day. He says, “You never see an unhappy face, the staff are always smiling and so helpful. They go out of their way to talk and they won’t leave you until you’re happy.
I remember one day I was sitting out in the garden at the hospice, it’s so beautiful and peaceful. But I was feeling really down, really low. Brenda died in 2011 and I miss her every day. One of the staff saw me sitting there and came out to talk to me and by the time we had finished talking I was feeling on top of the world, that’s the sort of place it is.”
Colin takes each day at a time, but he knows that when he is nearing the end of his life he will continue to get support from the St Joseph’s Community Team. He’s sure that’s where he wants to be, in his own home with his beloved dogs and all his happy memories.
If you want to know more about what St Joseph’s Hospice can do for you, call the First Contact Team: 0300 303 0400 (for referrals and 24/7 advice and support).