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Pippa and Grace’s story

Two teenage girls brought together by bereavement share their story of loss, friendship and fearless fundraising.

Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

Eighteen-year-olds Pippa and Grace, brought together by the death of their fathers, have forged a firm friendship and embarked on a series of daredevil fundraising events as their way of saying thank you to Thames Hospice for guiding them through their grief.

Introduced at a family event at Thames Hospice, the two teenagers immediately hit it off and have used that close bond to support each other and the Hospice that’s helped them through the most difficult period of their lives so far.

Pippa, whose father Senan died of cancer in April 2022, explains, “I would say it’s a bit of weird situation because you wouldn’t normally become so close friends with someone so quickly but, because we have both lost our dads, it was really nice to have someone who just gets it and relates to what we’ve been through, so, we’ve like, speeded through friendship in a way.”

Soon after their first meeting the pair, united in their appreciation for the help they’ve had, agreed to bungee jump to raise money for Thames Hospice.

“I just always wanted to do a bungee jump and was thinking if there is ever a time to do anything like that, now is it,” says Pippa. “There’s the fundraising aspect but we’re lucky because you really get fun out of it, it has the wow factor and people can’t believe you’ll actually do it.”

That disbelief helped them raise £1,000 each and has inspired them to take things a step further – or higher. They have booked to do a skydive in August and this time, they’re hoping to be joined by a special companion.

As well as their own close relationship, Grace and Pippa also formed a real connection with Sonia, Thames Hospice’s Children and Families Specialist Worker, who they say has provided an outlet for them to talk about things they don’t feel like discussing with anyone else.

Sonia met both girls and their families while their fathers were still alive. She explains, “I’m particularly there to support children and young people where a mum or dad has a palliative diagnosis and are reaching end of life. So, my role is to get involved, sooner rather than later so the mums and dads can trust me at such a difficult time, which then enables them to feel more confident in my work with their children.

“It’s actually making sure that they have that knowledge, those skills, and someone to turn to if they’re scared and confused, but not take away from their parenting role.

Grace attributes her current positive state of mind to her relationships with both Pippa and Sonia.

“I don’t think I’d be where I am, or as open if I didn’t have the support, and, obviously, meeting Pippa.

“With Sonia we had a lot of tears and hugs and I knew she had my back. A lot of the stress was on my mum, so Sonia just took some of that off and has been there through my recovery.

Like Pippa’s father, Senan, Grace’s dad, Clive, spent the last few days of his life at Thames Hospice, moving there soon after his last night at home which coincided with Grace’s school prom.

Grace remembers, “When he got here, it was like a sigh of relief, because while he never wanted to die he knew he was in the right place, and I think that’s why he died quite quickly, because he was relaxed.”

Pippa’s memory of Senan’s experience was very similar. She recalls, “He loved it, and that sounds like quite a weird thing to say because you come to a hospice knowing that you will probably die. But, he literally walked in and said, ‘it’s like a hotel’.”

When asked to think of words that best describe the hospice, neither girl has any hesitation in responding positively.

Pippa answered, “Happy.” She added that her fellow students who joined her on a school visit were amazed at how happy it was. “Someone said it was a happy place where sad things happen. All the staff, nurses, doctors, café staff, therapists and counsellors – they’re all happy.”

Meanwhile for Grace, it’s ‘warm’. “It just feels like a calming place and obviously very beautiful as well.”

While for Pippa and Grace it’s almost two years since their fathers died, they’re both very aware that their loss will be with them forever and grateful therefore to have had Sonia by their side for an extended period.

“Still having that support when it’s stopped from other people - knowing that she is still there to talk to – is good,” says Grace.

“They assume that as time goes on, it gets easier, but it doesn’t really and Sonia uses the theory that grief doesn’t get smaller, life around it just gets bigger.”

Pippa is looking to the future with optimism as she plans to go to Bristol University in the autumn and thanks Sonia and her new friend being able to do that.

“A big part of the support, more recently, has been coming to the family days and Sonia introducing me to people like Grace and, our other friends, who I would never have met if it weren’t for Sonia. And now it’s like a new support network, in a way, which is really nice.”

Sonia, who admitted she shed a tear watching Grace and Pippa bungee jump, paid tribute to the girls: “I’m incredibly proud of them, because what they’ve been through is tough enough, but to find the skill and the strength to work their way through it and still think of other people, I just think is amazing.”

Make a difference

Our services are free of charge to all those in our community who need vital hospice care but this is only made possible through the charitable support and generosity of our amazing community. We need to raise £38,363 each day to fund our services 365 days a year to the people who need us most.

We’ve never needed you, our wonderful supporters, more than we need you today. Please donate what you can to help keep hospice care available for those in desperate need.

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Created by potrace 1.16, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2019

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