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Lou’s story: Summer Walk won’t be easy for me, but I’ll push myself in Dad’s memory

Lou is determined to overcome her own health problems and complete this year’s Summer Walk in memory of her dad, Bill

On Saturday 13 July, Lou Wood will put her best foot forward to raise vital funds for our hospice charity by joining our Summer Walk.

Lou will walk in memory of her dad, Bill and explains, “My dad was born in 1943 in East London, under a kitchen table to be precise, just as a bomb went off nearby! He was a computer programmer and when he was just 28, he was head-hunted to set up a company in Bahrain and he made the decision to take us all out there.

“Rather than returning to London after Bahrain, we moved to Devon. He’d always had digestive problems and his doctors had advised him to move away from London and lower his stress.

A man holding a camera and a woman looking at him smiling

18 year-old Louise with her dad, Bill

“In April 2016, he went to hospital as he had a lot of swelling and fluid build-up in his stomach. While he was there, they discovered the cancer. Just 12 weeks later, he died on Hospiscare’s specialist ward.

“I remember when he first went into the hospice shortly after his diagnosis for his medication to be adjusted and to have a syringe driver fitted. He spent a week on the ward and as strange as it might sound, he really enjoyed being there!

“My dad had the most cracking sense of humour. He got on really well with the staff and had the best chats about his favourite topic: football. He loved food and one of the chefs cooked all of the ‘old-fashioned’ foods that were his favourites, like lots of puddings and custard!

“Despite everything that was going on, he just had the loveliest time in the hospice and was treated with such dignity and respect. Somehow the staff made such a horrific experience bearable.

“When we couldn’t care for him at home any longer, he was admitted to the ward. In those last few days, nothing was too much trouble. We were all there with him in this incredible room where the windows and doors opened onto this fantastic garden and we could hear the birds singing and the trees rustling.

“As a family, we were all taken care of by Hospiscare during that difficult time and I’m in awe of the magic they do. The respect, care and understanding they gave my dad during his last weeks was amazing and I’m very grateful.”

A young girl on her father's lap

Louise as a child with her father, Bill

For Lou, this challenge has been “a long time coming”. Determined to support Hospiscare in memory of her dad, Lou felt hindered by her own ill-health. Lou suffers from several auto-immune disorders, including fibromyalgia and osteo arthritis, and experiences daily chronic pain.

Lou continues, “I’ve been waiting for something that I feel I’m able to complete and the seven-mile route of Summer Walk is the perfect challenge. I’ve been building up my steps since January and although I’m a little nervous, I’m determined to push myself because it means so much to me.

“I’m really looking forward to the day and that feeling of communal support. My sister-in-law and my niece will be walking with me, and it’ll feel like a day out rather than a challenge, especially because you stop and get treats along the way!”

An older man holding a baby girl

Bill with his first great-granddaughter, Lily-Ann

Our charity’s fundraising walk takes place at Darts Farm and will celebrate all things summer, including a cream tea picnic, award-winning gelato and a glass of Pimms en-route. The event is in partnership with Darts Farm and is kindly sponsored by Hilton-Ames Chauffeurs and West Country Contracting.

Hospiscare’s family-friendly event is open to all ages and abilities and Lou hopes to inspire others to join her, no matter what challenges they may face.

Lou concludes, “Like Hospiscare says, ‘every day matters’. Time is precious, so make it count.”

There’s still time to sign-up to our Summer Walk with registration closing on 9 July. To step into summer and raise vital funds for local end-of-life care, click here.