Willowbrook Hospice will forever hold a special place in Nicky Saunders’ heart – and not just because she is the charity’s fund-raising boss.
Nicky’s husband, Mark, was treated in the Portico Lane hospice after being diagnosed with terminal bowel and liver cancer in 1999 and her dad, Ian, was treated there before dying of leukaemia last year.
She said: “Mark didn’t want to go into the hospice but as soon as we walked in the door and were greeted by the volunteers on reception and the nurses, it was just lovely. It was such a different atmosphere to the hospital. They really made a fuss of him and he really liked going there. The doctors treated him more like a friend. I loved what the hospice did for him – they gave him his dignity back.
“Mark was such a nice guy. He didn’t drink or smoke – he was a black belt in jujitsu – and he was a wonderful dad and a lovely husband.”
Nicky, 51, of Knowsley Village, was just 38 when Mark lost his brave cancer battle in September 2001 and their children Steven, now 24, and Laura, 22, were just 11 and 10.
She returned to work as a craft, cookery and cake-decorating teacher at Knowsley Community College before, a few years later, grasping the opportunity to work for Willowbrook.
Nicky has now worked for Willowbrook for the last seven years. She added: “My mum was first to notice the advert for a fund-raising manager. I didn’t apply at first, but when I did I got the job!
“Willowbrook is a privilege to work for. I feel very passionately about what the hospice can do for people to help them feel better about their lives - both physically and emotionally.”
“Hospice staff can also help families get through the worst time in their lives. Grief is a very personal thing and everyone deals with it differently.”