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The Thompson Family’s story

Bernadette Thompson was the caring heart of her family. A fiercely independent lady who never complained after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour. But when she and her family needed help, the Multi-Disciplinary Team at Thames Hospice was there to provide personalised care and support, not only for Bernadette but across three generations of her loved ones.

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

Bernadette and Paul Thompson lived together in Maidenhead and have three children, Lucy, Helen and John and eight grandchildren. Avid tennis player Bernadette was sadly diagnosed with late-stage glioblastoma in September 2020. Bernadette accessed a number of services at Thames Hospice, including complementary therapy and inpatient care. Bernadette and her family were also supported by the Pastoral Care Team at the Hospice.

Bernadette Thompson’s husband and children say the moment she arrived at her granddaughter Annie’s christening is one that will stay with them for ever.

An immensely proud Nana, Bernadette looked beautiful all dressed up in a new top bought specially for the occasion, her face brightly lit with joy. Yet this important family gathering was being held in the function room of Thames Hospice and Bernadette had only weeks left to live.

But far from being somewhere patients simply go at the end of life, the Thompson family know only too well that Thames Hospice is actually a place that uplifts the quality of lives of everyone who is welcomed inside. It’s a place of peace and sanctuary where the dedicated staff and volunteers understand that a difficult diagnosis impacts not just one patient, but a broad group of people.

Bernadette’s daughter Lucy recalls: “Mum really wanted to be at Annie’s christening and Thames Hospice staff did everything they could on the day to make her feel amazing and special. She looked the best she had in months and it was so nice that the family could all be together.

“In the weeks that mum was here we were always made to feel really welcome. From the moment you walk through the doors there is such a sense of calm.”

Lucy’s sister Helen adds: “We were able to have quality time together as a family with the peace of mind of knowing that Mum was so well looked after 24 hours a day. We could all spend time with her in her lovely room or go for walks outside. Every one of us was offered individual support and Mum’s grandchildren still love coming here. My daughter Sophie now wants to work at the Hospice. She wants to help people like Thames Hospice helped her Nana.”

Sophie painted a wonderful picture to thank the Hospice staff for looking after her Nana which is now pride of place in the Visitors Room, in memory of Bernadette.

Bernadette was referred to Thames Hospice back in late 2021 months after being told her cancer had returned. She started benefitting from complementary therapies at the Hospice, but was later admitted to Inpatient Services in August 2022 following a series of seizures and falls that meant she was hospitalised. The dedication of the Thames Hospice team to improving things for Bernadette and her family was evident right from the start.

Bernadette’s husband Paul explains: “There was a delay to her being transferred to the Hospice because of a lack of transport, so the admissions team stayed late to facilitate it. From then with everything Thames Hospice did for Bernadette, her quiet determination meant we saw real improvement.

“The Hospice staff adapt so quickly to the needs of the patients. Their agility is amazing and the care was always offered at the right time - it was never intrusive. We were even able to bring in our much-loved Dachshund dog Gretel to see Bernadette.”

Bernadette passed away peacefully in November 2022. Thames Hospice is still supporting her family, and Paul has received one-to-one and weekly group bereavement counselling which he has found to be very helpful.

“It’s been very important to us to support the Hospice because it was so good to all of us and we want to give back our time and donate as much as we can as well as encouraging the local community to support the charity,” Paul concludes. “If there wasn’t somewhere like Thames Hospice it would be much harder for families in our situation.”

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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