THE brand-new St Barnabas House Sunrise to Remember walk was a poignant and uplifting experience for the 286 men, women and children who rose to the challenge on Saturday 25 June, with more participants who couldn’t make the event taking on the virtual Sunrise to Remember challenge in the upcoming weeks.
Participants set off from Worthing Leisure Centre at 4.15am on Saturday and chose to walk either a 10k or 20k route. The walkers headed to Ferring Rife via Ilex Way and then onto the beach in time to see the sunrise together.
Many of those taking part in Sunrise to Remember were walking in memory of family and friends who have been cared for by the hospice.
Leanne Williams, 40, from Littlehampton, took on the 10k route with her sister, Kelly, and partner, Andrew in memory of her Mum, Pat Williams, who died in 2021.
“The word I would use to describe my Mum is ‘amazing’. She was always there for us, and she was the best Nanny to all her grandchildren. We wanted to take part in Sunrise to Remember to say thank you to St Barnabas House for all the support they have given us.”
In 2014, Pat started to feel unwell and was soon diagnosed with lung cancer. Leanne said:
“Mum had cancer about six times, she had it in her bowel and in her liver too, she was a very strong lady.”
After years of treatment, Pat’s health was starting to improve, and her treatment stopped. Leanne said:
“She was having check-ups every six months or so, but we were feeling much more positive about everything.”
Then, in August 2021, Pat took a turn for the worse. Leanne added:
“Her health suddenly deteriorated, she couldn’t move without being sick, so we had lots of tests done again, and they found out she had a tumour in the lower left side of her brain.”
They managed to remove the brain tumour, and the family were feeling optimistic and had a three-month check-up booked for December.
“In November, Mum took a turn again. We found out that in under three months, the tumour had regrown and spread. And there was nothing they could do.”
At this difficult time, the family met the team at St Barnabas House hospice. Leanne said:
“Mum moved in with me in her final few weeks, she wanted to stay at home with her family, and St Barnabas House made this possible. Their nurses would come out to visit us a few times a day, and their support meant a lot to our family.
“When someone you love is dying, you want to do all you can for them and do everything right. St Barnabas House was there to support us and reassure us that we were doing the best we could and that Mum was in the best place possible.
“We made some amazing memories together in that time. Mum loved reading, but her eyesight deteriorated quickly, so I offered to read books to her. All I had in the house were kids’ books, so she opted for the Roald Dahl collection, and I read them to her.”
On 15 December 2021, at the age of 73, Pat sadly died with her daughters, Leanne and Kelly, sister Maureen, and cousin Carol, by her side. Leanne said:
“Mum went while I was reading ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to her. It’s memories like that that make it easier.
“We wanted to take part in Sunrise to Remember to give something back to St Barnabas House as we are so grateful, we had them in our lives.”
Speaking about the event, Leanne said:
“The event was amazing! Being part of something special for such an awesome cause and doing it in memory of our amazing mum made it all worthwhile.”
To register your interest in Night to Remember 2023, please visit: www.stbh.org.uk/events-enquiries/