Martlets cared for Grant’s Mum and his friends which inspired him to volunteer at the Hospice. He now works full-time for Martlets’ fundraising team. Grant explains why he wanted to get more involved, what his job entails, and why Martlets is such a rewarding place to work.
Martlets cared for my Mum back in 2008 when she was terminally ill with cancer. They also supported me as her full-time carer. Martlets looked after my wife’s friend, and a good friend of mine who had cancer – she was only in her 40s when she died. The staff on the inpatient unit (IPU) were just fantastic. They went out of their way to help decorate my friend’s room with her special things. She was able to have the music she loved playing during her last hours. She would nod her head to her favourite tune. It was a wonderful thing as we were always out together clubbing. She would be the first on the dance floor and music meant a lot to her.
The nurses were so amazing at understanding what made people tick and what meant the most to them. That really stuck with me; how my friend was able to be herself right up to the end. Her personality was still there despite the cancer, and she could express herself in this small way thanks to the understanding of the nurses.
My wife’s friend had an aggressive cancer. He was given just two weeks to live from when he was diagnosed, which was horrific. But Martlets stepped in. They helped his family get the house ready and supported them so that he could die peacefully at home. So, I knew from personal experience what a difference Martlets makes to people on the inpatient unit and in their own homes.
I started volunteering as a ward clerk on Martlets’ inpatient unit on a Sunday evening. It was just what I needed. I was feeling the loss of my mum and my friends particularly acutely on a Sunday and everyone at Martlets was such good company.
Sundays were difficult for me. They felt quite poignant as I was reminded of the things I used to do with my mum and my friends. We would have a nice dinner and a family Sunday. I’d sit with Mum and watch a bit of Antiques Roadshow. Sundays had begun to feel quite quiet and empty. So I thought it would be great to volunteer in some way to fill the gap.
I contacted Martlets and an opportunity came up to be a ward clerk on the reception desk of their IPU. Everyone was fantastic and so welcoming; I felt I was doing a valuable job supporting the nurses and the staff. Sometimes I’d talk to patients too and they would enjoy having a chat. Often people think of a hospice as being only about death and dying. Although through my volunteering I saw that it was a vibrant place as well that really celebrates life.
Death and dying is an important topic that people often shy away from, but we need to make it less taboo. I realised I wanted to work in this field full-time. I’m now Gifts in Wills and Grants Executive on Martlets’ fundraising team.
Through my experience of grief and loss, my connection with Martlets, and doing a degree in anthropology, I’ve become interested in the broader conversation about death and dying. What I love about Martlets is that they work in a holistic way; not only do they offer expert medical care but also bereavement and counselling support, wellbeing services, and so much more. I also love their creative approach to fundraising through big events such as the Halloween Ball and the art trails – the Snails and Snowdogs.
I feel privileged to be able to support Martlets through managing our Gifts in Wills scheme. Also making sure we apply for funding through grants and trusts. One in three patients are cared for thanks to legacy giving so if you’re able to leave a gift to us in your Will, small or large, we would really appreciate it. It’s a fabulous feeling to be able to get funds in and to see how that translates into actual resources that make a difference. Whether that’s providing jelly and ice cream from the canteen (which patients often ask for!) or brand new ‘cuddle beds’ and the funding of essential services.
We recently said our goodbyes to the building at Wayfield Avenue as Martlets is planning a brand-new hospice that’s fit for the future. It was emotional remembering loved ones who were cared for there. But also really freeing to let that pain go and look to the future.
Some of Martlets’ staff got together in the Hospice gardens last month to say farewell to the building. We got together to share our memories of this very special place. Martlets will still be providing the same services, but from various temporary sites across Brighton and Hove. This is until the new building is completed.
It was an emotional occasion for me as I was remembering the care my mum got there, and my friend, and my wife’s friend, who died. I still have a lot of deep feelings and some anger about losing them. However, it was lovely to let some of those painful memories go, along with the building. It’s hard to express; I’m not religious, but it felt very much as though I was able to let them go into the light of our new building and the bright future that lies ahead for Martlets as they continue to care.
When you see the plans for the new building, you can see it’s going to be a bright space which will light up with kindness and compassion too. The new resources will be patient focused with lots of space for families and visitors to feel comfortable as well as patients. It’s going to be fantastic and will help so many people in the community. It’s all been thought through meticulously and I think everyone will feel so proud to have facilities that can provide such a high level of care for years to come.”