Rachel’s story – Hospiscare sang at my wedding

Hospiscare staff nurse Rachel Hamilton shares her wedding day with the Hospiscare choir.

Rachel Hamilton, 27 from Exeter, is a Hospiscare staff nurse and has been working for the local charity on the ward at Searle House for two years. At the end of 2018, Rachel married Ben Turner who also has connections to Hospiscare volunteering as a Trustee.

The wedding took place at Dartington Hall at Christmas and as Rachel is a member of the Hospiscare Choir, it seemed only natural to ask the Choir to sing during their ceremony. Rachel, who has always loved singing, joined the Hospiscare choir’s soprano section as soon as she became a Hospiscare nurse. Rachel explains,

“I sing in the Hospiscare Choir, which is a lot of fun. Everyone in the group simply enjoys music and singing, and Hospiscare holds a special place for all of us for one reason or another. Some are volunteers, nurses and doctors, others are relatives who joined the choir after their loved ones have been patients.

“We perform in public to raise money so Hospiscare patients and their families can continue to be cared for, and you may have seen us singing outside M&S on Exeter High Street. We also performed at two weddings last year, one was for the granddaughter of a patient and the other was my own wedding in December.  Once the choirmaster has been paid, all donations go straight into patient care.

“All through life and nursing we’re taught how to live well, for example with a healthy diet and exercise, but no one teaches us how to die well. Nursing on the ward at Searle House is fulfilling and challenging, and I’ve learnt that every life and every death is different, and it’s okay to be okay about dying. Being able to sing with the choir and have that support and close bond with the group is very uplifting.”

Hospiscare nurse Rachel on her wedding day

Liz Gibbons, Hospiscare nurse and member of the Choir and Choir committee, comments,

“The choir members meet each week to practice in Searle House under the direction of Alfie Pugh, musical director, and it isn’t unusual to have a patient or family member join in or stop to listen. Music holds many emotional attachments and complements the specialist care and support delivered by the hospice team.

“We all have a particular song or piece of music that makes us laugh or cry and the choir worked for months to learn the songs chosen by Rachel for her and Ben’s wedding, knowing that they held special meaning. Rachel didn’t want to miss out on the fun on the day and stepped forward to join the choir in singing The Lion King’s ‘He Lives in Me’, as a surprise for her new husband and their wedding guests. The smiles said it all.

“Anyone wishing to know more or learn about upcoming events can go to the Hospiscare choir website or find us on Facebook.”