New event to honour departed loved ones

Anne Ballantyne with her late mother Jean.
Anne Ballantyne with her late mother Jean.

People from across Northumberland are taking part in a new event in memory of loved ones.

The St Oswald’s Hospice Lantern Walk will take place on Saturday, July 9, at Newcastle Racecourse, hosted by radio personality Alfie Joey.

Nichola Sweet with her late grandmother Isabel.

Nichola Sweet with her late grandmother Isabel.

It is an opportunity for people to come together to remember family and friends no longer with them.

Those who have already signed up include Morpeth resident Anne Ballantyne. Her mother Jean died, aged 86, at the hospice in October 2015 after spending just under three weeks being cared for on its adult inpatient unit.

Nichola Sweet, from Pegswood, is another Lantern Walk participant. She is doing the 5km event in memory of her grandmother, Isabel, who she called ‘Nanna Bel’.

Anne said: “Mam was diagnosed with skin cancer in November 2014, major surgery followed soon after, and at this point, we all thought she was in the clear. After six months’ treatment, we were told Mam’s chemotherapy had stopped working and we needed to prepare for end of life, focusing on palliative care.

“As we moved into the next stage of Mam’s condition, she was allocated a Macmillian nurse who suggested that Mam went to visit the St Oswald’s Hospice inpatient unit for observation.

“At first, Mam didn’t want to go as she didn’t think she would come home again and she always had said she wanted to die at home.

“However, the minute Mam arrived at St Oswald’s and was greeted by such brilliant loving care, she immediately perked up.

“The team were all so caring, thoughtful and fell over backwards to make Mam feel comfortable.

“Mam said she was very comfortable and happy with her surroundings at the hospice. Everyone was so supportive, not just towards Mam, but to all of the family too.

“Due to the first-hand care we received during Mam’s final weeks, every fund-raising activity we do for charity now will be for St Oswald’s because we know the money is going to support a great cause.”

Isabel died aged 85 when she was taken into hospital with pneumonia, and it was then she was also diagnosed with lung cancer. Due to her own circumstances, Nichola did not get chance to say goodbye to her Nanna Bel.

She said: “Nanna Bel didn’t get the chance to use St Oswald’s as she died two days after being diagnosed with lung cancer. I was pregnant at the time and this happened on the same day I was taken into the same hospital to be induced, so I didn’t get to say goodbye. The birth was complicated and traumatic and so I was too ill to attend the funeral.

“From everything that’s happened, I’ve been receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and post-natal depression. I’m recovering well, but I’ve struggled with grieving for Nanna Bel as she was a huge part of my life.

“Part of my recovery is getting out and about more. I was in a garden centre with my Mam and son when I came across the Lantern Walk.

“I thought it would be a lovely way to honour Nanna by raising money for St Oswald’s, as she was a big supporter of cancer charities after her husband died of lung cancer.”

Doors open for the Lantern Walk at 7pm and the walk will begin at 8.30pm.

For more information, call 0191 2469123 or visit www.stoswaldsuk.org/lantern-walk