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Sisters, Amanda Saunders, 47 from Durrington, and Caroline Ball, 44 from High Salvington, have recently signed up for the experience of a lifetime – trekking the Great Wall of China Challenge in October 2020 for St Barnabas House. They will be taking on the challenge in memory of their parents, Pat and Roger Creasey, who were both cared for at the hospice. Amanda and Carrie have kindly shared their story:
“Dad was diagnosed with cancer in early 2014 and passed away in May that year. For the short time after he was diagnosed, he was supported by St Barnabas, receiving pain relief at home. On the day he died, he collapsed at home that morning and the ambulance took him straight to St Barnabas where he passed away only a few hours later.
“Mum had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) for many years. During that time, she received respite care at St Barnabas which she found very helpful, especially after Dad died. She also had visits from St Barnabas nurses at home. On one occasion, she was booked in for a week of respite care and then had a bad turn and ended up staying for longer, which was such a blessing as we knew she was receiving the best possible care. We would visit Mum when she was there for respite care and it became a familiar environment for us and our families.
“Just after New Year in 2017, she had a bad exacerbation and was admitted to St Barnabas where she was cared for for around 10 days.
“We are so grateful that they were both able to fulfil their wish of passing away at St Barnabas as the environment is so calm and caring and serene. We were also able to stay overnight with Mum towards the end and nothing was too much trouble.”
After their Mum died, Carrie called on the hospice’s Family Services Team for support and her children were given workbooks to help with the grieving process. Both sisters have attended the hospice’s remembrance services and occasionally visit the chapel to light a candle and remember their parents. “It’s always a welcoming place to go, especially on anniversaries or just when we’re feeling low and missing them,” says Amanda, “You can just visit and have a good cry.”
“We really want to support St Barnabas to ‘give back’ after the wonderful care we and our parents received at our darkest times. We think it’s part of our grieving process and a way to honour them. It’s also a challenge to ourselves and a way to spend some time together, doing something totally outside our comfort zones! Luckily, we have supportive husbands and children and they are completely behind us doing this challenge.”
The sisters have supported the hospice’s Night to Remember midnight walk three times. Last year, they did the walk with a team of friends and family, calling themselves ‘Creasey’s Diamonds’. Carrie says, “This is because our maiden name was Creasey and Mum and Dad (but mostly Mum!) loved Neil Diamond and his music when they were alive. We were brought up listening to his songs and now love it ourselves. So the name just fits really well!”
Amanda and Carrie haven’t started training in earnest yet but are looking forward to joining up with their fellow trekkers on some training walks and plan to start seriously training in the autumn.
They do, however, have lots of ideas for raising the funds needed to achieve their target of £5,600. They are planning a series of events kicking off with an annual raffle that they have done for a number of years through Amanda’s business – Teach Me Kung Fu Schools. Each year, they hold a raffle at their Summer Fun Day and this year will be adding a tombola. In July, they are planning a Strawberry Cream Tea Garden Party and in September a car wash and bric-a-brac sale.
When asked what they are most looking forward to about the trek, the sisters said, “Experiencing the culture of China and the amazing scenery we’re going to see from the Great Wall. Also, meeting new people who have the same desire as us to do something amazing to remember loved ones who were helped by St Barnabas. We’re also looking forward to the toboggan run! Mum and Dad would probably think we were mad but they would be very proud!”
The Great Wall of China Challenge will run from 17 to 25 October 2020 and see a team of up to 50 adventure-seekers trek along the legendary man-made Wonder of the World.
Trekkers will have the chance to experience fascinating Chinese culture as they explore the treasures of Beijing with its Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and famous Tiananmen Square.
The trek will also take the team along the Badaling Old section where they will ensure their place in history by helping to reconstruct a section of the Great Wall. For those trekking in memory of a loved one, there will be an opportunity to leave them a special message in the wall.
The funds raised by the 2020 China trekkers will enable the charity to continue to expand its services and reach everyone who needs hospice care.
If you have been inspired by Amanda and Carrie’s story and would like to join the team of St Barnabas trekkers, you can find out more or request a brochure by visiting www.stbh.org.uk/china or calling 01903 706354.
You can support the sisters via their JustGiving page – www.justgiving.com/fundraising/creasey-s-diamonds