Despite the huge impact coronavirus has had on our work, we are still here for every Island patient and their families when they need us most. Our care continues, not only for people dying with coronavirus, but also for the thousands of people who are dying from other illnesses, both across our community and in our InPatient Unit.

Here, Chris Browning shares his story about the care his grandad received at Mountbatten Hospice and how a freshly prepared fruit salad made a real difference during his final days.


My grandad, William ‘Bill’ Browning, was determined to spend his final days in the home he’d spent the past 44 years.  

He wanted to sit in his favourite chair in his lounge, looking out at the immaculate garden he’d tended so carefully: perhaps at the tree we’d all hidden behind when a firework lit by one of his sons exploded during a bonfire night party, at the flowerbed he once told me off for damaging with my football, at the greenhouse where he grew his prized tomatoes and arrows.

That bungalow near the cliff path in Shanklin was the centre of his universe and the centre of our family, but he’d been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His health was failing. He couldn’t stay there. 

He needed care that his children simply couldn’t provide. And so, like countless people before him, he turned to Mountbatten Hospice.

As he left his home for what he knew would be the last time, he may have wondered what the coming days would hold. 

One Sunday afternoon, unable to go and see him in person due to the lockdown restrictions, I spoke to him on the phone. I knew it might be the last time I’d ever speak to him. I knew his health had deteriorated in the days before he came to the hospice. I was worried that he wouldn’t sound like my grandad - and my final memory of him would be an upsetting one.

I needn’t have worried.

He was in a very good mood: bright, sharp, and laughing like always. 

He told me about his lovely, sun-filled room with a view of the garden. He said the hospice staff had been treating him like a VIP and he felt at home there.

I could hear the usual smile in his voice as he asked me what I’d been up to, how work was going. It was like every other conversation I’d ever had with him, with lots of laughter and jokes. 

At that moment he was actually enjoying a fruit salad. He was delighted that it’d been made especially for him, with fresh fruit. 

For the previous few days he hadn’t been eating a lot, but he loved that fruit salad.

It turned out to be one of his final meals. He died peacefully on the 31st of March, two days after our phone call.

Despite facing the greatest public health crisis health workers have ever faced, the hospice staff had managed to bring precious moments of joy to his final days.

The kind, wonderful person who took the time to cut up the fresh fruit to make Grandad his salad was busier than they’d ever been before. But they did it, and I heard in his voice how much it meant to him.

The pandemic means it's never been harder for the hospice to provide the compassionate, personalised care it’s famous for, and it's still doing it brilliantly. 

Thanks to the care the hospice gave my Grandad, I will always remember him as happy.

Grandad took part in Walk the Wight three times, the last when he was 75. When not walking himself, he’d come and pick us up at the finish line. 

My family will be taking part again next year, in his memory, and to say thank-you to the wonderful hospice staff who did so much for him at such a difficult time.

Thanks to Chris for sharing his story. If you would like to share your story, we would be really grateful to hear from you.

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