Posted: Sun 23rd Jun 2024

Former Policeman leaves a legacy of hope by sponsoring a patient room at a hospice for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area

Gareth James, a former policeman of Cheshire Police, and his family have sponsored a patient room at Nightingale House Hospice named Jasmine, which holds special significance to Gareth and his wife, Beverley.

After being diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2021, Gareth put all effort into trying to beat his cancer, including changing his diet and seeking the help of private doctors and specialists. 

Talking fondly about Gareth, his wife Beverly James explained, “Gareth was initially diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in January 2021. When we had the phone call to tell us that information and that Gareth would be receiving palliative care and had just 18 months to live. Gareth came off the phone and said, ‘Well, that’s not bloody happening…’ I remember just looking at him, thinking the doctors are the experts. But Gareth was adamant he was going to do everything in his power to beat the cancer. He changed to a plant-based diet overnight. He read everything he could. We even travelled all over the UK and European countries to speak to experts and get specialist treatment. He was on a mission…”

Gareth’s mum, Cathrine James, recommended that he seek support from Nightingale House after remembering she accessed their services when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1990’s.

Beverly opened up about the support Gareth received from the Wrexham Hospice, “When he needed to come to the hospice for a respite stay to help with pain management. Gareth was hesitant at first as he felt this was a step closer to him losing his battle, but he knew it would help. Gareth was very open-minded and would do anything to try to feel better…

“The hospice made Gareth so comfortable during the 10 days he stayed for respite care. He was happy to be there and relieved he’d gone! During his stay, he grew stronger and enjoyed the fabulous meals. Gareth received a stream of visitors daily. He didn’t sleep well on his own the first few nights, and then I started staying overnight with Gareth in his room, which put him at ease. I was even allowed to bring our puppy to stay with us.
His friends could also take him out to do things during the day so he could still have a normal life. The staff were so accommodating with everything. And by the time he came home, he was much better.”

Speaking about why the couple decided to sponsor a patient room, Beverley said, “It was when Gareth was quite ill that we received a letter from the hospice talking about the new Inpatient Unit they were creating. It said how different amounts of money could fund different things, including sponsoring a patient room for £10,000. Gareth really liked the idea of sponsoring a patient room so he could leave a lasting legacy that other people would receive the same excellent care from Nightingale House.”

When Gareth became too ill to get any more treatment, the money he had raised through crowdfunding stood at £7000, which the couple then put a further £3000 together to be able to sponsor a patient room at Nightingale House to help patients in the future.
The name for the room, Jasmine, holds special significance to the couple as they used to go on holiday to Asia. Beverley spoke about the room name,

“Gareth and I used to go on holiday to the Far East and loved the tropical plants and fragrant smells of the beautiful flowers. When we looked at the different names for the rooms, which were all flowers, Jasmine was definitely the one for us. Jasmine is a sacred flower and is a reminder of the holidays we enjoyed together.”

Although Gareth sadly died in December 2023, he is leaving a legacy that will benefit individuals living with life-limiting conditions for many years to come. Sharing how resilient her husband was, Beverley said, “In a way, Gareth did win his battle… He lived for two years longer than the doctors expected, which is huge! He didn’t let anything stop him and wanted to help other people.”

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