Family transform hospital room in memory of loved one


Posted on Tuesday 4 September 2018
Henry family presenting a large cheque to Guy's and St Thomas' Charity

The Henry family presenting a large cheque to Guy's and St Thomas' Charity.

A family has paid tribute to their relative by refurbishing a family room in the hospital where he was cared for.

Derek Henry, from Kennington in south London, was 59 when he passed away due to bowel cancer at Guy’s Hospital last August.

He was cared for on Hedley Atkins Unit, which includes a family room where his daughter Kimberley Henry stayed every night in the last week of his life.

After his death, Kimberley, 36 from Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire, and the rest of their family decided to honour Derek’s memory by donating money which would be used to make the room a nicer environment for families to use.

Kimberley, a mother of three, said: “Dad was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013 and had surgery at Guy’s to remove his bowel. Last year he found out it had come back but he didn’t want to worry us so initially kept it to himself. By the time we knew he was told he only had a few days left which was a huge shock.

“At the time I was seven months’ pregnant and on my honeymoon but I flew home to be with Dad. I stayed in the family room every night as he wanted me close by – we had been as thick as thieves since I was a baby. It was dark, bare and clinical and I only had Dad’s iPad for company.

“Dad received incredible care at Guy’s. The nurses and doctors were so empathetic and went above and beyond to look after him. He had been coming into the hospital for years and often said the nurses worked so hard that they deserved a medal.

“After he died we wanted to do something for the hospital to remember him. The most important thing to him was family, and the family room is always full of family and friends, so we thought that improving it would be a fitting tribute. It was a place where we cried, laughed and shared memories of Dad in his final days.”

The family donated £1,745 to Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, raised from contributions made after his death, which was used to give the room a complete makeover. It now has a large TV, books, magazines, comfortable seating and images on the wall, including one showing Clapham Common bandstand, which was Derek’s favourite place.

After the revamped room was recently unveiled, Kimberley said: “It’s lovely – it is much more homely and is somewhere relatives can go which doesn’t feel like you’re in hospital when you need to have time away from the ward.  It will make a big difference to other families. Dad died on August 25 so it’s really nice to know that the room is now ready, a year since he passed away.”

Liz Dunn, Head of Nursing Oncology at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “Improving the family room is a dream realised. What Derek’s family said about the room resonated with all of us. They wanted a little haven which felt different from being by the bedside of a patient in the ward. It is fabulous that they have thrown their energy into creating something wonderful. We are so thankful to them and what they have done is a great tribute to Derek.”

Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity raises money for big things and small touches that make our life-saving care even better and help our patients and their families feel really looked after. Find out how you can fundraise for Guy’s and St Thomas’.

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