Gwen, mum-of-three, whose youngest son died a month before his 30th birthday, has chosen a special way to thank hospice staff for their kindness.
Gwen, 77, has joined John Taylor Hospice as a volunteer – gifting her time twice a week in a show of support for the staff that cared for her son Glyn.
Glyn, a personal trainer from Sutton Coldfield, was the youngest of three siblings. “He was such a character,” said Gwen. “He just loved sports - racing cars, skiing, kickboxing – you name it. Like the rest of our family he loved to travel too.”
Glyn was just 29 years old when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in October 2008. Gwen explains: “He had severe backache and said he just didn’t feel right in himself but couldn’t explain why. When he was diagnosed with bowel cancer and told it was aggressive we were shocked and devastated.”
Three months after his diagnosis, Glyn was admitted to John Taylor’s In-Patient Unit, where he died in February 2009.
Talking of the care her son received from the Birmingham-based hospice, Gwen said: “The hospice staff were absolutely wonderful and their support and care for Glyn never faltered. He was never on his own and he died surrounded by his family.”
Former teacher Gwen had always felt she wanted to give something back to the hospice, so when a new café opened its doors in the hospice grounds in 2016, she jumped at the chance to sign up as a volunteer barista.
Moments Café – staffed solely by volunteers – is a relaxing and peaceful space for patients, their families and staff to enjoy a hot drink and a bite to eat.
“As a family we’ve all found personal ways to show support for John Taylor staff over the years,” explains Swansea-born Gwen who lives with her husband Alfred in Birmingham. “When I’m here at the hospice I feel closer to Glyn and feel I’m saying thank you to the wonderful staff that supported us all. I really enjoy being a volunteer barista and it’s like a little family here.”
Glyn’s older brother David, 52, has shown his support for the hospice by presenting staff with a cheque for £1,500. The generous donation comes from a charitable fund supported by Unite members working at Cadbury in Bournville, Birmingham.
David, who is chairman of the branch, put forward John Taylor Hospice as a potential recipient and was delighted when a cause so close to his heart was chosen to benefit from the fund.
“When Glyn was cared for by John Taylor we as a family were also looked after,” said David, who works as a chocolate maker for Cadbury. “We were always made to feel welcome no matter the time of day or night.
It's very important for my family to show our support and repay in a small way the kindness that they showed to us. I’m so pleased that my mam is working now at JTH - I'm very proud of her and very pleased that she's working with such lovely people.”