After moving to Ryde from Oxfordshire in June 2022, Sue and Nick’s plans for a peaceful Island life were shattered by Nick's devastating diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in October 2023. The care and support they received from Mountbatten provided comfort during Nick’s final days and inspired Sue to embark on a new journey of giving back.

Nick, a retired police inspector, and Sue, a former nurse who had ventured into horticulture via criminology, had envisioned a serene retirement together. However, their lives took an unexpected turn when Nick's long-standing back problems escalated, revealing a far graver condition.

Nick’s health issues had been a part of their lives for many years. He had undergone three back surgeries and often managed his discomfort with painkillers and well-orchestrated exercises. “Nick being the warrior that he was took a few tablets, let them take effect, did some exercises and things usually went back to his normal way which wasn’t perfect, but it was manageable,” Sue recalls. However, in August 2023, an episode of back pain did not improve with his usual treatments. By September, his condition worsened, and after a series of tests, he was rushed to hospital.

“When he left the house, little did we know he would never come back,” Sue reflects.

At the hospital, the couple’s world was turned upside down as Nick was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer that had spread extensively, including to his bones, lungs, sternum, and pelvis. “It was like someone coming in with a bulldozer,” Sue says, describing the overwhelming nature of the diagnosis. The couple quickly realised that there was no treatment option for Nick’s condition.

With pain management being the primary focus, Nick was transferred to the inpatient unit at Mountbatten for palliative care. The couple were initially hopeful that Nick might return home after receiving physio and pain management at the hospice.

“From the minute we arrived... we walked into a new atmosphere,” Sue recalls. “It’s very hard to encapsulate and describe... It was an immensely special feeling”, she explains. “Everybody we came into contact with, from the nurses to the cleaning staff exuded a sense of care, kindness, and warmth.”

Not long after being admitted, it became clear that Nick would not be able to return home, and in his final days, Mountbatten became more than just a place for medical care; it was a source of emotional and psychological support. “Never once did I feel alone,” Sue emphasises. She vividly remembers the dedication of the staff, who helped her through some of her toughest moments:

 “They inspired me to keep moving forward. They would say, ‘You know what, it's fine if you break down if you cry or if you're all up together one minute and then you just lose it the next, that’s fine, too.”

The team’s commitment to making Nick comfortable was evident in every interaction. “Nick also felt very loved and cared for when he was here,” Sue says, recalling Nick's stories about flirting with the nighttime nursing staff. Despite the gravity of his illness, Nick maintained his larger-than-life personality, finding moments of joy and connection even in his last days.

“Everyone at Mountbatten made us feel held, seen, and cared for.”

After Nick died on 25 November, Sue felt an overwhelming urge to give back. She started volunteering at Mountbatten, taking on roles that allow her to support both inpatients and outpatients and has found a renewed sense of purpose. “I find it very satisfying. It’s helped me pick myself up after Nick died,” she says.

Sue’s volunteer roles at Mountbatten are varied and impactful. She works closely with Mary and Vicky in the rehabilitation team, assisting patients with exercises and mobility work. “It gives the team an extra pair of hands,” Sue explains.

Of particular importance to Sue is offering companionship to those who may not have visitors. “I'm all alone on the Island. I don't have anybody here. So, a big thing for me is spending time with patients who haven’t got people to visit them. I bring them out of their room and into the John Cheverton Centre. Maybe get them a cup of tea, sit and have a chat with them. And best of all, get them outside.”

Sue’s dedication to Mountbatten extended beyond her volunteer work when she and her family, including her 13-year-old grandson, participated in Walk the Wight 2024, tackling the full 26.5-mile route in Nick’s memory.

“We started at 6 a.m. in Bembridge. I was very conscious of the ridiculous trousers I wore for the day with sunflowers all over them, but I was in good company!” she said with a smile.

“It was an incredible atmosphere. I did quite a bit of training, but I wasn’t ready for all the hills!” Sue admits. “As the day went on, I got slower and slower and when I saw the back walkers, I realised we were the last people walking.”

Despite the challenging terrain, Sue’s determination saw her through, arriving at the finish line around 8:30 p.m. to cheers and applause from the Mountbatten team. “Even if I crawled over the finish line alone, I would have got over it for Nick and Mountbatten and for all the people who sponsored me.”

Sue’s efforts raised over £560 individually, contributing to her team’s total of around £1,500. Many of the family, including Sue, have already pre-registered for next year’s walk.

As Sue continues her volunteer work, she embodies how love, compassion, and determination can transform even the most difficult experiences into opportunities for growth and service. “Mountbatten feels like a very safe and secure place for me to be,” Sue affirms - a sentiment that resonates deeply with anyone who has experienced the profound care provided by Mountbatten’s teams.

Have you ever considered volunteering to give back? We would love to have you join our team, and with our wide range of volunteering roles, there's one to support your goals and the time you have available.

Find out more