Last weekend, cousins Billy and Emily Smith, both 19 from East Preston, took on a charity skydive in memory of their granny, Caryl Smith. Their 15,000ft jump has raised almost £2,000 for St Barnabas House, the hospice that cared for Caryl during the last weeks of her life.
“Granny was the most inspirational, courageous lady and we are eternally grateful for the amazing care, compassion and dedication that St Barnabas House was able to give her and all our family,” says Emily. “Billy and I wanted to raise awareness and funds for the charity to honour Granny and help us to continue her legacy.”
The pair chose to take on a skydiving challenge in memory of their granny, who they describe as “an ambitious and extraordinary lady”.
“She would probably think we were crazy jumping 15,000ft out of a plane,” says Billy. “But she did some crazy and amazing things for us and everyone in her life. We just wanted to do something to give back to St Barnabas for everything they did for Granny and all of us.”
Billy and Emily’s granny, Caryl was diagnosed with multiple myeloma blood cancer just over two years ago. Sadly, despite undergoing chemotherapy, her condition deteriorated in May this year, and after a short stay in the hospital, Caryl was transferred to St Barnabas House hospice.
Five and a half weeks later, on 21 June 2022, Caryl died at St Barnabas House at the age of 78.
Speaking about this time, Emily said:
“Throughout the time Granny was in the hospice, the support we all received was astonishing. Nothing was too much trouble. The staff were all so comforting and answered any questions we had, and made Granny feel as comfortable as possible.
“The biggest difference their support made was allowing us to all just be with Granny in her last few weeks, without having to worry about her care or wellbeing. St Barnabas took care of all of that so that we could make the most of spending time together. We brought in photo albums to sit and reminisce together, and they even made it possible for us to take Granny home one last time to see her garden. We got to see her back in her element, surrounded by flowers, her family and even her cat. The hospice really went the extra mile to make this happen and it meant such a lot to us.”
Caryl’s greatest loves were her family, her garden, painting and storytelling, and her dream was to publish a children’s book. She started working on one – about her four grandchildren and her husband’s bees – around the time she was diagnosed with cancer, and it was published in June.
“With Grandad’s help, ‘Lazy bee meets the Queen’ was published, and she saw the first copy on 11 June, just 10 days before she sadly passed. She was beaming with joy, and we are all so proud of her accomplishments.”
Emily and Billy have raised an incredible £2,000 by doing a skydive for St Barnabas House, which will help to ensure the hospice can be there for other local people like their granny.
To find out how you can support your local hospice, please visit www.stbh.org.uk