Sunday, 14 August 2022

Man who was the face of our Sue Ryder Christmas appeal

A CANCER sufferer who helped the Henley Standard to raise more than £21,000 for the Sue Ryder hospice

A CANCER sufferer who helped the Henley Standard to raise more than £21,000 for the Sue Ryder hospice at Nettlebed has died.

Tony Stevens, from Dunsden Green, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of renal cell cancer in the summer and given six months to live. He passed away on New Year’s Eve.

He was referred to the charity soon after his first hospital visit and was a regular user of both its outpatient clinics and its inpatient respite care and counselling services.

He was so impressed with the centre at Joyce Grove and the people who work there that he shared his story to encourage readers to support the hospice’s Christmas appeal.

The charity set out to raise £7,000, which is the average cost of a day’s care.

Mr Stevens, who ran the Jet garage in Reading Road, Henley, for 17 years until it closed last summer, lived in the area all his life and attended the former Dunsden Green village school, which was based at the village hall.

He also worked for a time as a lathe operator at engineering firm Stuart Turner, of Greys Road, Henley.

He started as a part-time caretaker at Eye and Dunsden village hall in 2011. He ran monthly bingo sessions to raise funds for its renovation and helped out on the door and bar at community events. Despite being in a wheelchair, he helped to marshal traffic at the hall’s last bonfire event in October.

His father John, a former mechanic on the Phillimore Estate in Binfield Heath, died, aged 67, in 2006 after battling various cancers over almost two decades. His mother Margaret followed less than a year later, again from cancer, at the age of 60.

Both were cared for at Joyce Grove and were delighted with their care.

Between visits to the hospice, Mr Stevens himself was cared for at home on a full-time basis by family friend Liam Boughey, 22, from Binfield Heath, with support from his cousin Andrew Huyton, 18, and Mr Stevens’ sister Teresa Whittall, 46, from East Hagbourne.

Because it was feared he might not live until Christmas Day, the hospice arranged an early celebration on December 13 with a tree, presents, Christmas music and a full roast dinner. Several dozen friends and relatives attended.

Mr Stevens said the centre was “the best place to be” whenever his condition worsened and that he would prefer to be there than in hospital.

He said people should consider giving a regular gift to support its work and praised the staff as “truly incredible and caring people”.

Miriam Payne, the hospice’s marketing officer, told him how successful the appeal had been shortly before he died.

She said: “He was completely thrilled and very proud. He was also extremely grateful to everybody for their generosity.”

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