Nurse takes on Hospices to Holland cycle challenge in memory of brother
When Nurse Kate Watkins threw open the curtains to reveal her birthday present from her husband, she was surprised to see a new bike in the garden. She wondered what an earth he was thinking – it was the last thing she wanted – but Kate smiled and pretended she was pleased.
Fast forward a few years and Kate has been so captivated by that bike that she’s cycling 280 miles in our Hospices to Holland challenge in September 2024 in memory of her brother, Tony Williams.
Tony was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer at 54-years-old in 2017. His family cared for him at home until he was admitted to the hospice Inpatient Unit in July 2018, where he sadly died after a two-week stay.
Kate remembers how grateful the family was for the hospice’s support. ‘When Tony went into St Wilfrid’s, it took that huge sense of worry away as we knew he was being so well looked after. Not that the family wasn’t doing a great job, of course, but there’s only so much you can do.
‘In the run-up to Tony being admitted, it was good to know the hospice Care at Home Team was available, as well as its Nurse Line, which offers advice and support at any time of the day and night.
‘Once Tony was admitted to the hospice Inpatient Unit, it was a relief to know other people were taking care of his needs 24-hours-a-day. If he needed something, they could provide it. A huge weight was lifted, and he was in such beautiful surroundings, it meant the family could come in and feel peaceful.
‘Tony had constant care at the hospice, and it would have been much tougher without the support of the doctors, nurses and other staff there. That’s why I’ve signed up for the Hospices to Holland challenge. I want to raise as much money as I can for the hospice to help ensure other families can benefit from the wonderful care that Tony received,’ Kate said.
Since Tony’s death, Kate, has started working at St Wilfrid’s as a Nurse and seen the care from the other side. She said: ‘Tony received the most amazing care at what was a very difficult time for us as a family, and from what I’d experienced, I was keen to work there. I was already working in a nursing home but was ready to move to the hospice to offer a role providing more specialised care.’
In her spare time, Kate had been a keen runner, until a torn tendon put her on the injury bench. It was because she was so frustrated that she couldn’t exercise, that her husband bought her the bike – and that led to Kate signing up for the St Wilfrid’s sponsored ‘Wilfride’ bike challenge in 2022. ‘Having previously completed the Wilfride, which followed a route from the hospice in Eastbourne to Paris, it was the most amazing adventure I have been on, and I couldn’t wait to sign up for Hospices to Holland,’ Kate said.
‘Everyone has their own reason for doing this kind of challenge. Last time, we were all different ages and abilities, but got on incredibly well and made real friendships. Everyone encouraged each other, we stopped, had breaks, then all met up at the end of the day to have a drink together,’ Kate said.
Kate was initially nervous about the fundraising element of such a challenge. ‘The fundraising did feel a bit daunting but it’s actually easier than I expected. I’m trying lots of different approaches, along with others who are taking part. I’ve cleared out the loft and sold items at car boot sales, made up hampers to raffle off, created a guess the number of sweets in a jar and raffled a bunny I made myself.
‘We held a race night at a local pub and we’ll be exploring many more fundraising opportunities over the coming months. All the money soon adds up, you just need to be creative. I’m so excited to do the ride even though it will push me out of my comfort zone mentally and physically,’ Kate said.
If you’d like to challenge yourself and take part in Hospices for Holland, visit stwhospice.org/event/hospices-to-holland/ for more information.
Pictured right: Tony Williams