Thursday, 21 October 2021

Grieving woman to make film about hospice charity

A WOMAN is making a documentary to promote the charity that cared for her dying partner during his final weeks.

A WOMAN is making a documentary to promote the charity that cared for her dying partner during his final weeks.

Karen Hilton, 51, will begin filming at a fund-raiser she is holding for the Sue Ryder home at Nettlebed later this month.

She wants to help the hospice because of the support the staff provided in the five weeks before her partner Robin Samson died, aged 53, from cancer on July 11 last year.

Ms Hilton, of Beech Close, Watlington, said: “It is such a special place because of the skill in communication, on every level, which eases the vulnerability that families feel.

“Everything is shared and explained and the staff really listen to what everyone needs. We felt cared for as a family and offered a sanctuary which lessened our pain and isolation.

“This life-changing experience has inspired me to champion the phenomenal work that is done within the Sue Ryder movement. I would like to do this by raising money and by raising awareness.”

Ms Hilton, who works in a handbag shop in Wallingford, and Mr Samson had been together for 14 years.

He worked as a style arbiter and was about to start a new job in London when he was diagnosed with lung cancer after complaining of feeling “under the weather”.

After three weeks at a hospital in Oxford, which Ms Hilton described as “horrendous”, Mr Samson was referred to Sue Ryder — and the couple’s relief was immediate.

Ms Hilton said: “They took all the worry away and made it easier even though we knew Robin was going to die.

“That’s so important for people like myself who have no idea when you start a journey where someone’s going to die. There’s someone there to give you any guidance you need. They were so brilliant and told us to treat it like a second home.

“The nurses got to know the patient and he was monitored so well with great communication. Their humour was brilliant. They loved laughter and Robin called them his ‘angels’ because he thought they were amazing. Nothing was too much trouble for them. There were no taboos and I felt there was love around us. It was as if Robin had come home because he wasn’t afraid to die there. I would turn up after work to see him in his room and one of the nurses would instantly ask, ‘coffee with two sugars?’ It was so lovely.”

Mr Samson died five months after he was diagnosed, leaving two children, Will, 24, and Claire, 26, from a previous marriage. Ms Hilton, who also has two sons, Billy, 27, and Jordan, 22, said the nurses who had cared for him cried. “It was really heartfelt,” she said. “They had really got involved with him and me as well. I got to know them really well.”

Ms Hilton decided to set up Dying4Life, a group dedicated to raising funds and showcasing the hospice’s work, with the help of five friends, Jane Gavin, Caroline Kerr, Tanya McFadyen, Sandra Meadows and Caroline Rossiter.

She said: “There is life after death and that’s what it’s all about. More and more people should talk about it and not close the door. It’s a celebration of someone who has been alive rather than all the stigmas attached to death — how people don’t like talking about it and feel uncomfortable.”

Ms Hilton hopes to raise awareness of the charity with the documentary, which actor Jeremy Irons has offered to narrate.

She said: “I’ve never done anything like this before. My plan is to sell it to a TV station, maybe Channel 4, because it’s going to be that good and all the money I make will go to Sue Ryder.”

Filming will take place inside the hospice and there will be interviews with volunteers and nurses and possibly a patient.

Ms Hilton wants to inform people, especially the younger generation, what goes on inside the hospice. She said: “People think it’s an old granny sitting in a rocking chair but we’re going to highlight how it’s nothing like that. There are some pretty cool people who work for Sue Ryder.

“The aim is to open people’s minds, simplify the confusion and help people understand the nature of palliative care.

“If my experience can capture and highlight the essence of their care then perhaps other families who face this challenge can become aware of the comfort and support that is on offer.

“It helps us think that there are two crucial aspects to this: we need to be surrounded by love to enable us to die and we need to be surrounded by love to enable us to go on living.”

More News:

POLL: Have your say