Give a local family a special gift this Christmas


For those who lose a loved one over the festive season, it can be a painful time that may bring sad memories during Christmases to come.

Because of this, at Hospiscare, everyone works especially hard to make sure patients and their families make the most of the time they have and to create precious memories to reflect on for the future.

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Jayne's story

I met Dave 34 years ago at a Valentine’s Day disco. He said to me ‘I’d buy you a drink but I can’t afford it, but you can buy me one!’ so I did. That’s when I thought, I really like you because you’re not fake at all. You’re just who you are. We just clicked and we were together from that day. 

We did everything together; we were a strong unit. We travelled all around the UK with our eight children. Dave was good with whatever he put his hands to – he could do anything, make anything, fix anything. At one point we travelled together in a traditional horse drawn wagon that Dave had built for us himself. He was always pushing for adventures, encouraging us to be brave. We travelled all over, but particularly fell in love with Bulgaria. We ended up spending summers over there, growing our own food, and coming back to England each winter. 


The Horler FamilyThe Horler Family 

Last August, Dave started to feel unwell. He never went to the doctors and he never had to take tablets; if he had a headache he would rather lie down and let it go away. He wasn’t feeling too good and he wasn’t looking too good. I didn’t want to say anything because I can honestly say that Dave was the biggest worrier in the world when it came to his health; he freaked out if he had a headache or felt peculiar in case in case he couldn’t look after us.

When I finally got him to the doctors. I never imagined… you always think that word (cancer) but you push it away. Then it was within two months. It was so quick.

Even now, I still think, this hasn’t really happened – Dave is going to turn up.

Dave’s diagnosis meant that he urgently needed treatment. We’ve never been apart, but he had to be admitted to hospital to have an operation. I stayed with him and two days afterwards, he was starting to pick up again and being Dave, he said, ‘I’m going to beat this’.  A short while later that evening, a nurse came in and said, ‘You’re going to have to go home now Jayne’. I was so upset and I thought they really didn’t understand; I had never been apart from Dave. Not ever. Not for one night. I really started to panic but my daughter Dorothea said, ‘You’re not going home. I’m going to see the nurse and explain.’

So the nurses said one more night but then you must go home because we’re moving him into a ward. So Dave said, ‘I’m going home then’.

We just couldn’t bear to be apart.

When we came home he was okay, one of my daughters had experience in caring, so she was nursing him but within a month, he deteriorated.  The Hospiscare community nurses came out to visit us and they encouraged us to come into the hospice in Exeter.

When he was admitted to the hospice, I was frightened of being apart like we almost were in hospital. When it got to 10pm at night, Dave said, ‘You’d better go Jayne, but come back as early as you can in the morning.’ That was how relaxed he felt in there.

One of the nurses could see I was getting a bit upset and asked what was wrong. I said that I didn’t want to leave Dave, that we had never been apart, and she told me that I didn’t have to. I said, ‘Really?’

It was completely different from the hospital, I couldn’t believe it.

Dave worried about all the kids coming in the next day and there being a lot of them so he asked me to tell the nurses. I told them that we have a big family and they said it wasn’t a problem!  Within two days they had given us the family room. We tried to work it so only a few of us would be in at once and I’m sure the nurses must have seen this. In the end they said, ‘Jayne, what’s going on?’ I explained that we were a big family and the nurses told me to bring all our family in together - that was why we had the family room. 

Candy cane on a Christmas Tree


When it was getting closer to Christmas Eve, I said to Dave, do you think they’d let us decorate the room?  He told me to ask them and they said ‘of course!’ I don’t know how the family did it, but they went out and bought a tree and all the decorations and trimmings and the room looked magical.

Dave fell asleep while they were decorating the room but when he woke up he said, ‘Am I in heaven?’

The tree was just so colourful and pretty. He was just staring at it all saying how beautiful it was.

All the nurses and every person at Hospiscare, you couldn’t fault them; they were one billion percent beautiful. Dave would always question taking his tablets as he never took pills, but with the Hospiscare nurses, he trusted them and would just take them. Dave, in such a hard time, felt comfortable. I don’t even know how that’s possible but they made him feel comfortable.

After Dave passed away, as we were leaving the hospice, one of the nurses came on duty and she had obviously heard what had happened. She promised me that she would check on him in the Room of Rest every half an hour, all night. Dave didn’t like being on his own. Just before he passed away, he was saying, ‘I don’t want to be on my own.’ When the nurse said that to me, it really soothed me.

Our whole life was with Dave, he was a strong family man and he loved his family.  Dave was the rock.

What was impossible, Dave would make possible. It’s going to be hard this Christmas but we will get through it as a family.

Hospiscare made such a hard time so special and so relaxing. This Christmas there will be other families like ours, who will be saying goodbye to someone they love. If you are able to give a donation, no matter how small, it would mean so much to know that others can receive the special care and love that was extended to Dave and to us.  

From all of our family, thank you and we wish you a lovely Christmas.

Could you help families like Dave and Jayne's this Christmas?

You can read more about Christmas at Hospiscare here, or if you feel able to do so, please use the form below to make a donation to support families like Jayne's. 

Or, could you make an extra special gift this Christmas?

“One of the best ways to support Hospiscare is by setting up a regular gift, by Direct Debit. Giving regularly in this way not only helps to fund patient care today, but allows the hospice to plan for the future with a little more certainty. If you would like to help in this way, then please click here.”


Make a donation

If you'd like to help other local people get the care they need this festive season, please make a one-off donation below. Thank you so much for your support. 



Read more about Christmas at Hospiscare