Becky was 41 years old when she passed away at Katharine House Hospice on 29 July 2021. This is her story told by some of her family – Becky’s husband Dean and her sisters.

Tell us a bit about Becky and what kind of a person she was.

Lizzy: Becky was my wonderful sister, but also the most amazing person I've ever met. She was the heart and soul of our family. Whenever she entered a room, it lit up and you always felt better for seeing her. This also made her brilliant at her job [Becky was a photographer] and many people have told me over the years how she took the most wonderful photos of them because she made them feel happy and special.

As her little sister, she taught me some great life skills, from how to use a space hopper to how to hail a taxi! Most importantly, she was the best example of how to be brave and truly live life.

Becky had an inherent sense of right and wrong and would always champion a good cause. This might be from helping people in small ways to the charity and fundraising work she did (including for Katharine House and a women's charity in India), to the demonstrations and marches she went on and her care for the climate and environment.

Abi: Becky will always be my baby sister.

I consider myself lucky that Becky's passion was photography. When she was alive, I didn't appreciate how many photos on my walls had been taken by her over 18 years, but now I only have to look around my home to be reminded of her and to know she is close by. Her passion has documented my children's growth and has left so much for us to enjoy every day.

She was generous to a fault, kind, wanted to make a difference, and always saw the best in people. Because of this she made friendships easily and she touched many people’s lives. And for the same reasons it has been hard to say goodbye to her.

What services at the hospice did she use?

Lizzy: In 2018 (prior to her cancer diagnosis), she used the lymphoedema clinic for around 18 months. I think it really helped her manage the condition and she loved seeing all the staff there.

Dean: Becky was at the Churchill for a week or so before being transferred to Katharine House. She was at the hospice for 10 weeks receiving end-of-life and palliative care. KHH was the best place for Becky to be where she received exceptional care and support.

Abi: There was amazing support in ensuring she was as comfortable as possible following her transfer from the hospital. As she began to feel more comfortable, her love of food returned and my eldest daughter delighted in introducing her to Sheila's shakes.

How did Becky feel about coming to the hospice?

Lizzy: I think Becky felt at home at Katharine House and among friends with all the doctors, nurses and support staff. It was a safe and comforting place for her.

Dean: Becky wanted to be at Katharine House as it was a place where she felt safe and she knew she would be well cared for. She didn’t want to cause her family any further stress or pressure (as opposed to being at home) and the hospice was the right place for her to be at that time. Due to her volunteer work as a driver and photographer and lymphoedema care at the hospice she already knew the staff and she knew she would receive excellent palliative care. She couldn’t have been in a better place.

How did the hospice make Becky feel special?

Lizzy: Staff she knew through the lymphoedema clinic and her volunteering and fundraising for Katharine House [Becky and the family took part in the Midnight (now Moonlight) Walk] came to visit her while she was there and she loved being able to still see people and for people to just pop in.

Dean: During her 10 weeks at KHH, she managed to go home for a week. The care staff helped to make her transition home as smooth as possible by organising all the equipment she needed. The hospice also made sure that there was a bed available for her when she needed to come back. This was a huge relief to Becky and me as we didn’t have the extra stress or worry about having to wait for a bed or not being able to go back.

“When we first arrived at the hospice, she had her name above her bed (like all patients), but the staff caught on very quickly that I call her ‘Cherry’ and they updated the board to reflect this.” 

They took the time to get to know us and provided daily support. The care team are people, not just nurses. We made some really good friends there and I still occasionally see the nurses and we have a chat.

If I ever needed to pop home to get extra bits or run an errand, someone from the hospice would always sit with Becky so she was never alone. I would come back and Becky would be asleep but they were still sitting with her. They allowed us to be together 24/7, which was really important to me as I wanted to be by her side constantly.

Are there any special memories that you have of her time in the hospice?

Lizzy: Helping Bex charioteer across the lawn with her dog Pedro pulling her wheelchair. Taking Becky for walks around the beautiful gardens and talking about all the different plants. Being able to get outside and talk in a beautiful calm and relaxing space was great, we even re-named one of the metal sheep in the garden after Pedro and said hi to him every time we passed. Being able to sleep over with Becky at the hospice and help look after her. All the sisters being able to sit out on the private patio and having tea and cake with Becky.

Dean: Becky turned 41 on 31 May 2021. The hospice supported me and Becky’s family to make her final birthday special. Her room was covered in flowers from her family and many friends and she was overwhelmed. There were over 60 bunches of flowers. Paula in the kitchen made her scones and she had a pamper day with champagne. We all sat outside in the garden and enjoyed the sunshine. Becky loved being outside in the sunshine. The hospice allows you to make those special moments happen.

Abi: One of my most cherished memories is of Becky’s 41st birthday. Friends and family came together to completely fill her room with flowers. It was a lovely celebration with cake and, in true Becky-style, bubbles with an added bonus of a large donation (around £1200) to Katharine House. Nothing seemed too much for the staff to accommodate. Katharine House provided Becky with the opportunity to enjoy these and many more moments.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say about the hospice?

Abi: The staff were brilliant in their care. Always considerate, kind and gentle. Becky, and other patients, were their primary focus, but they welcomed us all, spending time talking to us, explaining what was happening, laughing with us and nothing was ever too much trouble.

With two teenagers and a pre-schooler with special needs also sharing visits I was worried about noise, being boisterous and general rowdiness but we were always greeted with a smile and Becky loved having her nieces and nephew around. She will always be my baby sister and a much loved (and fun) aunty.

Dean: The day-to-day care is second to none and the care staff are brilliant people. They look after your wellbeing and mental state, not just physical - including the family.

Lizzy: I'm so grateful to all the Katharine House staff who helped Becky to really live the time she had left in a caring, gentle and supportive environment with little pain and people around her.

“My sister was supported and enabled to live with little pain and with dignity right to the end and to continue spending time and making memories with the family and friends who were so important to her. For that, I will always be grateful and will always support Katharine House to be there to provide this much-needed support in the community.” 

Becky was a champion of Katharine House during her life and I hope her story might encourage others in their support of a charity that was close to her heart and was there for her when she needed them most.

Becky was generous with her time and spirit and touched all our lives for the better. She never judged people and always saw the good in them. She is greatly missed by all who knew her.

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