Hot coals on fire making a path

Taking on the Hot Coals

Earlier this month, Karen Hunt took on the hot coals in memory of her partner Jason Brand. Karen tells us about the care her partner and family received from Martlets and why she wanted to take on our Firewalk challenge.

“After being given just weeks to live, Jason was admitted as an inpatient to Martlets. The only experience we had at the time of hospice care was when his father received end of life care at Coppercliff Hospice. We later learnt that Coppercliff merged with Tarner House and Macmillan Day Hospice to become Martlets.

I remember arriving at Martlets before the ambulance. I wanted to be the first face Jason saw when he arrived. At this point reality had kicked in, I sat outside with tears rolling down my face waiting for Jason to arrive. A visit from the Hospice cat, Misty, came just at the right time to calm my nerves.

I was shortly joined and comforted by one of the nurses that had seen me sitting outside. I was invited into the hospice and taken to see the room in which Jason would be staying. The nurse would not leave my side whilst we waited. Jason arrived shortly thereafter and was made to feel extremely welcome, just as I had been.”

Karen and Jason

Jason’s time on the inpatient unit

“He was visited daily by staff and volunteers who would keep the room clean and tidy. They would bring fresh flowers to brighten his day,” Karen explains. “His room opened onto the garden, which was perfect as he was a keen gardener. Jason would often tend to the flowers outside his room and pull out a few weeds he could find.

It was great as we could sit outside as a family. He was particularly happy we were able sit out and watch the fireworks together on 5 November.

The Hospice was getting ready for Christmas. The reception was decorated to look festive and joyful. Christmas always was a fun time in our household. Even though, I knew we would not see Christmas with Jason this year, I was happy that he would still be able to have his own Christmas with family and friends at Martlets.

The team at Martlets could not have been any more accommodating. They would offer complementary therapies such as head massages, foot massages and haircuts to Jason. We were also able to have meals together as a family. The team at Martlets were always there to offer support.

Misty the cat would spend a lot of time in our company. I would often arrive to find Jason smiling with Misty asleep on his lap. It was a comfort to know that when Jason had no visitors, he was not alone.”

Thanks to Martlets

Karen tells us, “Jason wished to return home one last time. The staff put arrangements in place and Jason was able to have an overnight stay. He was able to spend quality time in his home with our son, Connor, and me.

When he returned to the Hospice the following day, it was an emotional time. He knew he would not be coming home again. Jason was moved into a family room, and I was able to lay by his side throughout. The room was made up to look more like a honeymoon suite for us. Jason died with me by his side listening to our song just as we had discussed.

Jason spent the last 23 days of his life being able to do the things he loved the most, with his friends and family by his side. I cannot put into words how much Martlets means to our family. The support does not stop once your loved one has died, it continues to be offered thereafter and for as long as needed.

What would have been the worst days of our lives were some of the best days Jason could have hoped for towards the end of his life, thanks to Martlets.”

Jason and their son Connor


Walking over hot coals

“In the past I have walked and abseiled for Martlets. Now I have taken on the hot coals,” Karen explains. “I practised by walking bare foot on the beach and walking up and down gravelled pathways to harden my feet.

I’m not going to lie, there was a feeling of fear but also exhilaration. I do like to step out of my comfort zone every now and again. Walking over extremely hot temperatures bare-footed definitely tested me. However, we could all count on one another for support, whilst making memories and raising funds for Martlets. The experience was amazing, I wanted to do it again!

My advice to others thinking about taking part in a fundraising event is to repeat to yourself ‘it is mind over matter’. You may just fancy a challenge, have a story to tell or loved ones that you miss – whatever your reason, just go for it.”

Karen after completing the Firewalk

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Published 21/10/2022