Barry started to attend Blythe House in early 2019, after an advanced prostate cancer diagnosis that came ‘right out of the blue.’ The former project manager who trained as an architect found huge solace in the hospice’s art therapy, exploring his emotions to create a personal and impactful portfolio of work.

Following the last session of his programme at Blythe House, Barry, who’s from Whaley Bridge, explained: ‘I was attending The Christie Hospital for treatment and someone suggested getting some emotional support from Blythe House which is closer to home. I was in a bad place; when something like this happens, it’s a huge shock, and it came right out of the blue. There were big decisions to be made about the future and they were quite difficult to handle. It was a fundamental change in my life.

‘I first met Emma [Richards, Information and Support Facilitator], who referred me to the Living Well service where I met my key worker, Claire [Rimmer, Senior Nurse]. I’m not an emotional man usually but due to treatments, there was a big cloud hanging over me. What’s happened at Blythe House has been breath-taking; words are very easy to say but the nurses just recognised how I felt, angry and scared, and they responded to that. I have found it very liberating to come here; I can just be me.

‘I trained as an architect many years ago, but the artistic side of the job had drifted away from me and I was involved in the technical and admin side of the role, exchanging info between builders and contractors. I’ve always taken life quite seriously but lot of things took me back as a result of my diagnosis; I had a lot of questions – who are you? Who do you want to be?

‘The medication does have an effect on you and your emotions; you’re dealing with massive changes in life. The art that I’ve produced has stemmed away from work that I produced as part of my career, and become more creative and in-depth. I don’t have to hit any deadlines here, or have to liaise with any consultants. Catherine [Serjeant, Creative Art Coordinator] said to me: “Barry, you’ve been with too many high powered for too long!” I have created a portfolio of work, developed my skills base and explored all my emotions – it’s very powerful stuff. My time at Blythe House has been life-changing, quite literally.

‘Tuesdays are always going to be a special day for me; I am going to continue with my artwork, I’ve got that discipline in my life now. Blythe House is such a comfort; I know that when push comes to shove, they’ll always be here to help me.’

Blythe House has enabled me to focus on “living the new normal” and get on with my life and appreciate more; the Living Well name is so accurate because that’s exactly what it encourages you to do. It has given me hope for the future; it encourages you to live in the immediate moment, but see beyond into the future, by carrying on living instead of constantly worrying.

Mark got in touch with Blythe House within a week of being diagnosed with advanced, aggressive prostate cancer in April 2018. Since then, the 61-year-old grandfather of 12 has accessed different care and services including counselling, complimentary therapies and the prostate cancer support group, alongside his wonderful, supportive wife, Mary.

Disley resident Mark was an ultra-fell runner and would regularly take part in 25 to 30 mile runs and 40mile races during his weekends. The Manchester City Council construction manager explained: ‘I used to be very overweight so decided enough was enough and that I needed to lose some weight. I got involved in ultra-running and so I knew very well how my body worked; when I could carry on and when a little niggle was just that, or when enough was enough. One weekend, while on a 35mile run, I got a pain in my right hip; it did not seem to be budging so I went to a drop-in clinic near my work in Manchester.

‘The nurse advised that it was perhaps just a strain I’d picked up during the race. She gave me some medication but after week, the pain was still there. I went to see my GP, who advised that hip pain is a symptom of advanced prostate cancer, and she referred me for tests at Stepping Hill Hospital. I underwent different examinations including a digital rectal examination, as well as whole body and bone scans.

‘I then went on holiday to visit my son and grandchildren in Germany, and when I got back, it was time to find out my results (on my 60th birthday!) I said to Mary, “I feel like someone has got my whole life in their hands, and they’re going to make decisions on what’s going to happen to me.” When the test results came back, I asked if could look at the scans to check that it was actually my name on them, as they may have got them mixed up with someone else. I wanted to check that it was me, who had advanced prostate cancer that had spread to my bones and lymph nodes. My life was turned upside down.

‘I started androgen deprivation hormone therapy treatment that very day; it made me realise that it must be bad, if they’re starting treatment the very same day! I also underwent chemotherapy and endured the horrendous side effects including losing my hair, eyelashes and putting on weight.

‘Mary and I were pretty desperate and needed some support. Ironically, we used to live off Long Lane in Chapel-en-le-Frith and often wondered what went on at Blythe House but we never needed to use the services. I started to come to the Living Well day-care service in January 2019 and enjoyed 12 weeks of amazing care and support. I didn’t have to put on a face when I walked in Blythe House; if people asked how you were, it’s because they genuinely wanted to know, and they listened properly to your worries and concerns. Work colleagues and family are so supportive and well meaning, but unless you’ve had cancer or you’ve got it, you just don’t know how someone going through it can be feeling.

‘My key worker, Claire [Rimmer, senior nurse] and I had a really good bond; I felt heard and understood. It was exactly what I needed. If I ever needed someone other than my family, I wouldn’t go to Stepping Hill, I’d come to Claire; whenever you speak to her, you feel like you’re the only person she’s looking after. As part of the Living Well experience, I have had acupuncture sessions, as well as reiki and HEARTS with Carol [Stainer, complimentary therapist]; I was totally open minded about the therapies, but wow, they were out of this world and made an astounding difference to my mental and physical wellbeing, it was so relaxing. I have also found counselling sessions with Jacqui [Chadwick, counsellor] incredibly beneficial to talk about the mental health aspects of my illness.

‘As well as Living Well care and services, Mary and I have had amazing support from the prostate cancer support group. There is a mutual, unspoken understanding in the group; we all have the same problem and we’re all in different places but it’s important that there’s other people in my, and Mary’s, positions, who can provide advice and friendship.

‘Blythe House has ensured that Mary and I are not isolated in our situation; we’re not the first people to encounter anything like this. There is a tendency to think that no one knows what you’ve got, but Blythe House is so specialist in what it does. Being the person that I am, I never thought that I wouldn’t be able to run more than ten miles, it used to take me around five miles just to warm up! I haven’t hung up my trainers just yet, and I’ve starting cycling on part of my commute to work which feels unbelievably good!

‘Blythe House has enabled me to focus on “living the new normal” and get on with my life and appreciate more; the Living Well name is so accurate because that’s exactly what it encourages you to do. It has given me hope for the future; it encourages you to live in the immediate moment, but see beyond into the future, by carrying on living instead of constantly worrying.’

I spent 11 years fighting the Blythe House cause, helping to raise much-needed funds to continue to provide free care and services to those who really need them. I never thought that one day; I’d be on the other side of the fence, ringing the hospice to say “please help me.”

Vickie Wilson worked at Blythe House for over a decade, and remains a dedicated fundraising and events volunteer, as well as providing the most delicious cheesecakes to raise vital funds at our monthly coffee mornings.

Her Mum, Lynne, and Dad, Bill, were involved in the initial meeting to discuss fundraising for a High Peak hospice, back when Blythe House was founded in 1989. The family has continued to support Blythe House throughout its 30 years of service, by sponsoring newsletters, events and other fundraising initiatives.

Vickie never realised that one day, it might be her making the urgent phone call for help when Bill was diagnosed with heart failure, and Blythe House was able to provide specialist care when he needed it the most…

Vickie explained: ‘I started working at Blythe House in 2007 as a general secretary; helping with admin, care services and counselling. After a year I moved into the fundraising office, taking care of the banking, thank you notes to kind-hearted donors, community work, and events. My Dad was a prominent local businessman and would regularly donate money or gifts in kind to Blythe House including sponsorship of a carer’s day, and our monthly newsletters.

‘In 2015, Dad had a bad year; he collapsed and suffered a heart attack. He was in and out of hospital and had to have a TAVI (Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation) installed. The following year, Dad started to attend the Living Well service at Blythe House and enjoyed coming to weekly sessions where he met Foday Kamara, a spiritual care volunteer and Minister at Chinley Independent Chapel. The friendship he struck up with Foday turned out to be very special and profound.

‘Dad finished with the Living Well service but unfortunately in December 2018, I didn’t feel that he was getting the care and support that he deserved from outside sources, and so I made an appointment with Blythe House to see how the services might have been able to help him further. The team put a plan in place and Dad was visited at home by nursing staff, and Dr Sarah Parnacott, who runs a weekly palliative medicine clinic at Blythe House.

‘A few weeks later during one of her visits, Dr Parnacott told us that Dad’s health was deteriorating rapidly and some professional overnight care was quickly arranged with Blythe House’s Hospice at Home team. That night, Sheila [Darcey, Hospice at Home Healthcare Assistant] came at 10pm, and Foday also visited Dad to do Communion and have some quiet time. Dad died very peacefully at 10.50pm surrounded by his family.

‘Sheila asked my Mum and the family: “Would you like me to stay with you?” The answer was a resounding “yes.” We had a group hug and drank lots of tea and coffee. Sheila checked on Dad every half an hour or so; she was there with the doctor when the death was certified, and she oversaw everything with the funeral directors. Sheila has kept in contact since too, and came to Dad’s funeral.

‘I know that many people will have a story to tell about the amazing Hospice at Home service at Blythe House, and that most of those people will have their very own “Sheila” in their lives. She really was one in a million; she took the pain and anguish of losing Dad away, and was there to support us during the most difficult time; we couldn’t have coped without her.

‘I spent 11 years fighting the Blythe House cause, helping to raise much-needed funds to continue to provide free care and services to those who really need them. I never thought that one day; I’d be on the other side of the fence, ringing the hospice to say “please help me.”

‘I’d urge everyone in the local area to put their hand in their pockets and support Blythe House in whatever way they can. It may not be through cash donations but gifts in kind towards services or events, or volunteering your time to support its wonderful care; you really never know when you might need its services. For Dad, who had supported Blythe House throughout its history, it was there for him when he truly needed it and we will be forever grateful.’

Chapel-en-le-Frith youngsters Freya and Ethan continue to raise money for Blythe House after their Mummy, Charlotte started to attend in February 2018, following her breast cancer diagnosis.

Freya, 10, said: ‘We took part in the Jingle Bell Jog in December 2018, and encouraged all our friends at school to do the same. We have a full assembly called collective worship and so me, Ethan and my friend William stood up to talk about Blythe House and why Mummy comes here. We explained why Blythe House is so important because it’s there for people with bad illnesses but that it is such a nice, happy place. Our teacher nearly cried!’

Ethan, 6, added: ‘About 15 friends took part in the Jingle Bell Jog; it was a really fun day – I speeded off in front and nearly caught up with William. Freya, Mummy and I raised about £400 for Blythe House.’

Charlotte said: ‘We have sold Easter chicks and bunnies at the children’s school – Chapel-en-le-Frith C of E VC Primary School – for the last two years, raising vital funds for Blythe House services. We have also got ourselves a fundraising pack for Blythe’s 30th anniversary and hope to host a special event to celebrate.’

‘I want to organise a big, BIG party…’ Freya exclaimed!

If you would like more information about fundraising for Blythe House care and services, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please contact the fundraising team by calling: 01298 816 995 or email:

‘The Glow Twilight Walk is an exciting event that all members of the family can take part in. It is vital that local people support this event.

I know from my personal experience with having breast cancer, the fantastic help and support that goes on at Blythe House. I passionately feel it deserves all the support we can give it, so please sign up to take part and help raise funds for this fantastic hospice.’

Ann was looking forward to a fresh start with her husband, Ian when she moved to the High Peak from Stockport in February 2018. As they struggled to relocate furniture and belongings during the relentless Beast from the East, Ann became unwell with a sore throat, aches and pains, and she discovered she had shingles.

Ann with husband, Ian

After some time off work whilst moving house and being unwell, Ann went for a regular mammogram check-up at Macclesfield District General Hospital and within two weeks she found out that she had a 4.5cm tumour in her breast.

Ann had a mastectomy in May 2018, and though the operation went well, she then had to undergo nine weeks of chemotherapy to kill off small traces of the cancerous cells still in her lymph glands.

The Chapel-en-le-Frith resident explains: ‘My best friend Margaret moved to the new housing estate in Chapel and after a few visits to her and some discussions with my husband, we decided to make the move too so that we could be closer to the countryside. We were really looking forward to a fresh start and to enjoying our new life in the High Peak. My breast cancer diagnosis a few weeks after the move changed our lives.

‘After undergoing my operation and chemo, my boss and friend, Anne-Marie told me about Blythe House and encouraged me to find out more. I had the total wrong impression of the hospice and thought it was a little hospital where people came to die. I was incredibly nervous; I am not a confident person anyway, but especially being in a new area with only a few friends.

‘One day I was at home on my own as my husband was out at work and I decided to have a walk round to Blythe House. I was milling around outside too frightened to go in and one of the nurses, Liza, was walking in behind me and asked if she could help. She brought me through the doors and from that day on, it is the best thing I ever did. My husband could not believe I had the courage to walk round here in the first place!

‘Everyone here is such a big part of my life; if I hadn’t have come to Blythe House, I would have been in a different place. We all have different experiences and diagnoses but we can all chat and relate to each other. Coming here has changed me as a person; at one stage I wouldn’t have even spoken to share my story.’

Ann is due to go back to work in pharmacy production at Stepping Hill Hospital in April, as she continues her recovery and her prognosis looks good.

She says: ‘Blythe House has been a big part of my life and I’m going to miss so many people. I’ll continue to come to the monthly coffee mornings and attend the Breast Friends support group, to be able to support the hospice and catch up with friends. I also hope to raise money alongside Margaret and my two sons, Mark and Adam.’

Find out more about the Glow Twilight Walk

Sign up now

Without Blythe House I believe I would still have no confidence or self-belief; since coming here, all my family and friends have seen major improvements in me

Jenny Howe has always supported Blythe House through donating or attending monthly coffee mornings because, she says: ‘You never know when you might need the hospice services yourself.’

That outlook became a reality for Jenny in February 2018 when her life was ‘turned upside down’ after she found out that she had a brain tumour. The local resident was a district carer across the High Peak for 30 years and worked as a midday supervisor at Chapel-en-le-Frith High School before her diagnosis.

The mum of three explained: ‘I had been experiencing head and ear aches for a while but one morning I woke up and I couldn’t see straight. I went downstairs and my daughter told me that I was shouting and screaming at something that just wasn’t there. I offered to drive her to work but she insisted that we went to the doctor. I got an appointment but the doctor told me to get straight to Macclesfield District General Hospital, and by 11am that morning, I found out I had a brain tumour.

Jenny with Lorna, Living Well Service Support Worker

‘I was absolutely petrified when I found out, it literally turned my life upside down. I had to undergo major surgery to have some of the tumour removed; the surgeon could not take it all, because of its worrying position in my brain. I have lost sight in one eye and have also lost my ability to walk properly.

‘After all this I was at the lowest I have ever been. I started to come along to Blythe House just before Christmas 2018 and it has been a life saver for me. At first I was very nervous about attending, but after the first few seconds of walking through the door on my first day the nerves completely disappeared and have never returned.

‘I love getting involved in the activities, including arts and crafts, and have done things that I never would have done had I not have come to Blythe House. The group was making dishes made out of buttons, and so I went home and created my own coasters and mats made out of buttons – my daughter was so impressed. I made my own Christmas cards last year, after being inspired here at Blythe.

‘I also enjoy having reiki [a form of alternative medicine called energy healing]. I lost feeling down the right side of my face following the operation, but after a reiki session I can touch and feel senses in my cheek, and if my right eye waters, I can feel the tears running down it.

‘Without Blythe House I believe I would still have no confidence or self-belief; since coming here, all my family and friends have seen major improvements in me. I owe everyone at Blythe House a great deal of thanks and I feel like we are all one big family.’

Life unravelled for Alison when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2017, and her father had also been diagnosed with cancer.  After hearing about Blythe House through a close friend, she wanted to find out about accessing support services.

Alison admits that she cried throughout her whole first appointment at Blythe House in September 2017 after having a mastectomy the month before. But the hospice has helped to support her ‘practically, emotionally and creatively’ and after that initial visit, Alison says: ‘It was the first time I’d felt good about myself in a long time.’

Now, with a positive outlook on her prognosis, Alison was discharged from the hospice’s Living Well Service in February 2019. But it’s certainly not goodbye!

The Buxton resident, who worked in a local school, explains: ‘When I found out I had breast cancer, one of my first thoughts was that I could not give up work as I was halfway through a term! When I left on the last day of term, I put an ‘out of office’ response on my emails saying that I wouldn’t be back at the start of the new term, but I’d be back a few weeks late. I thought I’d just be off for a few weeks; but life changed dramatically with all these things that I just wasn’t expecting.

‘Coming to Blythe House, I have been able to meet and chat to staff, volunteers and other service users about my circumstances and what I was going through. Doing this really helped to normalise the situation; on one or two occasions I thought I was going mad! But my time at Blythe House made me realise that I was alright and that I wasn’t going crazy; other people were in the same boat too.’

Alison had further surgery in June 2018. She explains: ‘As well as dealing with my own prognosis and the side effects of the cancer and medication, my Dad was also very unwell too. After my mastectomy, I was told that my outlook looked good.  My Dad’s cancer was not curable, and after spending time at Ashgate Hospice he died on my birthday in summer 2018.

‘I had counselling at Blythe House, initially about my own health but as Dad’s condition deteriorated, I found that life just unravelled. The counselling gave me an opportunity to talk about my thoughts and feelings.

‘Having never picked up a paint brush in my life before, I now regularly paint at home and have created some pieces of art that I’m proud of as a result of taking part in arts and crafts here at Blythe House. I got involved in the writing group and although the weekly sessions at the hospice came to the end of the programme, myself and other members of the group have continued to meet in our own homes to write, chat and share experiences together.

‘I also accessed other services through Blythe House including reiki, reflexology and financial advice after I gave up work. The hospice has given me the tools that I need to take forward and continue in life.

Alison with daughter, Rachel before the Jingle Bell Jog 2018

‘I still attend The Christie hospital for check-ups but my prognosis is good and my outlook is looking much more positive. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come to Blythe House; I can say I certainly wouldn’t be the person that I am today. I will continue to support the hospice through the monthly coffee mornings where I’ll be able to come and see familiar faces and catch up. I also hope to take part in future fundraising events. I did the Jingle Bell Jog in December 2018 with very good friends; we came last but we did it – it was an amazing and uplifting day!’

‘I don’t usually go any further than my front room, but it’s so nice to have company and friendship’

Rural High Peak resident Keith was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, and, after a fall at home in September 2018, he found out that the disease had advanced and spread to his hips.

Back at home after time in and out of hospitals, the former lorry driver was referred to Blythe House for support and friendship, which is when he met Dave.

Dave Jenner, from Grindleford, is a community volunteer with Blythe House, which sees him heading out to patient’s homes across the borough to spend time with them and offer support.

Keith said: ‘Dave comes round to my house every week; sometimes we just sit and chat, other times we might go on a walk or he’ll help with small jobs around the house. He’s a grand chap; a gentle giant with a lovely personality, and nothing is too much trouble. I don’t usually go any further than my front room, but it’s so nice to have company and friendship. On one of his visits, Dave mentioned that he needed to drop some rubbish off at the tip, and so we went together for a ride out in the car; it was great to get out of the house for a while.

‘My wife Lucy benefited from Blythe House services when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997. She was a very keen supporter of the hospice and always got involved in helping to organise or contribute towards events. Lucy died in 2008 and Blythe House was on hand to offer advice and support. If anyone in the family needed any help, Blythe House was the place to go.’

Dave retired in 2012 after a career in public health research and statistics. He explained: ‘Retirement has given me more time for music as I play in a band, reading, walking in the Peak District, working on the land as I look after a bit of woodland, and of course, volunteering!

‘I think palliative care and the work of hospices is very important and I’m glad that it is increasingly being recognised. I have witnessed friends and my late wife benefiting from marvellous end-of-life care. When I saw information about the community volunteer project at Blythe House in the local newspaper, it sounded just my thing.

‘I have visited a number of Blythe House Hospicecare patients and service users in their homes, mainly for companionship and conversation but also for practical help, such as shopping and getting to GP appointments.

‘Vicci and Julie, the project co-ordinators, give you plenty of support, encouragement and feedback. It’s a well-run effort. I enjoyed our training and enjoy our regular team meetings with fellow volunteers. It’s satisfying to feel that you have had some positive impact on someone’s day. People are interesting. All the patients that I’ve visited have interesting stories to tell and in each case I have enjoyed listening to them.’

Keith’s daughter, Karen added: ‘When Dad came out of hospital, we really needed to coordinate a care package, including organising for a commode and a proper hospital bed to be put downstairs, as well as a stair lift. Blythe House really helped with this organisation, we got straight answers from them. We received the same positive response when Mum was poorly too. Dad lives in such a rural place, he can’t get out on his own; it makes such a big and positive difference to me, knowing that Dad has got friends and is being taken care of, by people from a very trusted place.’

March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, organised by Prostate Cancer UK to raise awareness of the most common cancer in men.

Did you know that in the UK, about 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives?

Only men have a prostate gland. The prostate is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows bigger as you get older. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra – the tube men urinate (wee) and ejaculate through.

Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way. Prostate cancer often grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems. But some men have prostate cancer that is more likely to spread. This needs treatment to stop it spreading outside the prostate.

Mike Harrison set up the High Peak Prostate Cancer Support Group at Blythe House in 2010, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer three years earlier.

The Chapel-en-le-Frith resident says: ‘I was 65 when I went to my local doctor who seemed to know the signs of prostate cancer and I had a blood test. Soon after, I was referred to Stepping Hill Hospital where I was diagnosed.

‘I felt very isolated and alone. I didn’t know about the disease or about treatments, and I found it very difficult to get information and advice. I underwent an operation in June 2007 to remove my prostate, and my wife and I went on a two-month cruise in early 2008 to enjoy some time together. It was around the same time that I decided that I would like to do something locally to provide information and support to people so they wouldn’t feel as lonely as I did.

‘I went along to a support group at The Christie in Manchester and sought advice from friends and the High Peak CVS. Then, in early 2010, I was attending an information event for the over 50s at the Octagon in Buxton when I met Ann [Burgoyne] from Blythe House Hospicecare and from that chat, the group was formed!

‘We have a great turnout every month, with around 20 people attending on average; a mixture of patients, their wives, girlfriends, partners and carers. We arrange for speakers to attend including from the medical profession to talk about the latest research into prostate cancer, medical trials, treatments and drugs, as well as topics like exercise and diet.

‘The group really does take the sting and fear out of cancer diagnosis. There will always be someone there with a different experience who can provide advice and friendship. When new people come along to attend, I can see the relief in their faces as we sit in our circle of friends to discuss and laugh together. They realise that this isn’t a death sentence, this is a question of living with prostate cancer, rather than dying from.

‘By attending the group, people have been able to discover and enjoy other services at Blythe House including mindfulness therapy and counselling. As well as friendship and fun, there’s also a serious side to the group and we’re proud to have supported medical research into prostate cancer, and worked with regional and national groups and charities to lobby for better services and regular, routine screening for men over 50.’

Group members worked alongside the regional Prostate Cancer Support North West group to successfully lobby for action when it was announced that prostate cancer services might be moved from Stepping Hill Hospital several years ago. They also liaise closely with the national charity for prostate cancer patients, Tackle, which in turn works with Prostate Cancer UK.

Mike continues: ‘It is a man’s right to ask for a screening test every two years when they’re over 50; and over 45 for ethnic minority groups. Prostate cancer for many men is symptomless and so some people may not find out about it until it’s too late. You are 2.5 times more likely to get it if your father or brother had it or if your mother has had breast cancer.

‘These worrying facts show that men really need to be opening up and talking about their health. The trouble with us is that we have a stiff upper lip and think, “Oh I’ll get over that!” But we need to get men talking and to raise awareness; we are the worst advocates for our own health.

‘The High Peak Cancer Support Group is open to everyone who is affected by prostate cancer. We are here to educate, advise, support, be your friend and ensure you live well for longer with prostate cancer, and you are more than welcome to attend!’

The group takes place on the fourth Tuesday of every month, from 5-7pm at Blythe House Hospicecare. Upcoming meetings:

  • Tuesday 26th March
  • Tuesday 23rd April

Learn more about the High Peak Cancer Support Group on its dedicated website.

Find lots of information and helpful advice:

A book written by a Blythe House Hospicecare patient is now available to read online.

Paul Harris, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in July 2015, has penned the book alongside close friend, Matt Hewitt.

The pair met in the playground of their children’s school in Disley many years ago and got to know each other through a joint enjoyment of the same type of literature, playing chess and drinking red wine.

Back in 2013, Paul and Matt decided to put pen to paper, and started work on the dark fantasy collection of short stories and poems ‘Dreams of Morpheus.’

Halfway through the writing stage, Paul received the ‘mind numbing’ news that he had rare neurological condition, motor neurone disease and was referred to Blythe House Hospicecare, where he’s been receiving care and support since November 2015.

Former long distance runner, Paul, explains: ‘I had taken part in a marathon in Staffordshire in March that year, and noticed that I was struggling to get my water bottles out of their pouches, my arms didn’t seem to be working. There were other worries that were getting more noticeable and so I went to my doctor in May who referred me to a neurologist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. I had just started a new job when I received the mind-numbing news that I had motor neurone disease and I had to leave through ill-health.

Matt and Paul in 2014, a year before Paul’s diagnosis

‘I started coming along to the Living Well Service at Blythe House every Tuesday and really enjoy my time here. I have complimentary therapies including massages, reflexology, reiki and aromatherapy, which are such great services and really make me feel much better.  I enjoy getting to see people and having lunch together. The afternoon mindfulness sessions are very useful in helping me to come to terms with the mental health aspects of the disease, and I enjoy hearing from other patients too as we share our stories.

‘The Hospice at Home healthcare assistants also visit me at my home three times per day to provide care and assistance. I feel that physiotherapy sessions with Tina Betts and massage therapy with Cathy Grange have definitely helped in slowing down the progression of the disease.’

The idea for Dreams of Morpheus stemmed from Paul’s thought-provoking background. He has always had an interest in dark fantasy, especially Norse mythology, Greek myths and legends, after gaining a Masters in Theology from the University of Manchester.

Paul says: ‘Matt and I had diverse ideas for the book but we worked together closely enhancing each other’s work. Writing has been a nice diversion and a great hobby for me; it has taken me away from having to think about my condition all of the time. It is my first published book so I am really very excited. So far, feedback has been very good too.’

The book is aimed at people who perhaps have some spare time to read shorter tales, for example in coffee shops or attending appointments, and might be of interest to readers who wish to take a break from full-length novels.

In the acknowledgements section of the book, Paul comments: ‘Since my diagnosis at the age of 41, I have been overwhelmed by the many acts of kindness and support that people have freely given to me and my family.

‘Thank you to everyone connected with Blythe House, I genuinely have so much gratitude for your help and support over the years. This has undoubtedly made a huge difference to my quality of life and that of my family.’

Paul with his wife and daughters

Now Paul’s daughters, Madelyn, 14, and Elloise, 11, are hoping to raise vital funds for Blythe House as a way to say thank you for their Dad’s care. They have received a fundraising pack for the hospice’s 30th anniversary, to give them some inspiration for their own fundraising initiatives. A few years ago, Madelyn undertook a sponsored silence in aid of the MND Association, to raise awareness of how motor neurone disease affects the vocal chords and the ability to speak.

Paul’s book is available to download via Smashwords and Amazon – you can also find out more by visiting the Facebook page.

For more information about supporting Blythe House or to request a 30th anniversary fundraising pack, please email: