Hospice nurses take on high-stakes challenge to show “Life is there to be grabbed”

“In this job, you really appreciate how short life is,” says Cassie Yandell. “That takes the fear out of a lot of things, because you realise how lucky you are to have the option of doing it. We look after people of all ages, and it just shows you that you’ve got to grab life with both hands.”

Cassie is one of 14 Hospice at Home nurses from St Barnabas House in Worthing who abseiled 180ft down Arundel Castle’s historic Bake House Tower on 25 and 26 March – all to raise money for local people who need palliative care.

They were drawn to the idea of completing a challenge together: “A lot of us are at an age where we want to do something different, a bit daring,” says fellow nurse Tracy Bagnall. “We’re all quite closely bonded, and we all support each other.”

Camaraderie is vitally important in their role, Cassie and Tracy agree: “Unless they’re in the job, people don’t completely understand what we see and what we do. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and we’re very good at noticing when one of us is struggling,” says Tracy.

While the funds raised from their abseil will help raise much-needed funds for St Barnabas, the Hospice at Home nurses are also keen to raise awareness of the service among people who may need it. “When people think about hospice care, they often think of the building itself – but the majority of care takes place in the community.

“From first diagnosis onwards, there’s always someone there to support you,” says Cassie. “We want to make sure families know that they are being held with a big net underneath them. And if they stumble, someone’s going to catch them.

“St Barnabas House is the happiest job that I’ve ever had. Hospices are kind, happy places and there’s always joy to be found, even in the saddest of times. Of course, there is great sadness but there’s also a lot of laughter. Us doing something fun and silly represents that. Life is there to be grabbed. It’s there to be lived as best and completely as you can.”

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