Kevin Hawley, affectionately known as Huggy, started to attend Blythe House in 2018 after being diagnosed with carcinoid syndrome. Huggy’s loveable nickname came about in 1976, when he was a firefighter in Derby; with colleagues taking inspiration from the hit TV show, Starsky and Hutch.
Huggy, who worked as a firefighter for 35 years across Derbyshire including in New Mills, Glossop and Buxton, had retired from the service and was working as a caretaker at Alderbrook Day Care Centre in Chinley when he started to feel unwell.
The passionate fundraiser, who many local people might know from running Black Diamond Discos, now takes daily medication including injecting himself three times per day.
Huggy explained: ‘I am member of the patient participation group for a doctor’s surgery in New Mills, and Emma [Richards, Information and Support Facilitator at Blythe House] came to give us a presentation about the hospice’s care and services in the local area. I thought to myself that I might be able to access some support from Blythe House, and I got in touch.
‘I started to come along to the Living Well day service, where I have been able to access complimentary and art therapies, mindfulness courses and regular clinics with Dr Sarah Parnacott [Consultant in Palliative Medicine].
‘I have found the mindfulness course at Blythe House really, really good. You do get pretty low when you’re feeling unwell all the time. Some people say it is rubbish but dealing with the stresses of illness is one of the hardest things you will ever have to do. If you are going for a scan or you’re worried about other aspects, you can pull techniques out of your toolbox to help you, that you’ve learnt here at Blythe House.
‘Having reiki, an alternative therapy, has been life-changing. Carol [Stanier, Complimentary Therapist], noticed during one of my treatments that I stopped breathing for a short time, so she ensured that I went to speak to Dr Parnacott. After a meeting with some questions, Dr Parnacott referred me to Chesterfield Royal Hospital where I was then diagnosed with cystic fibrosis of the pancreas. Thanks to the quick thinking of Blythe House staff, I am now able to manage the disease with specialist breathing machinery.
‘I once enjoyed a hand massage given by another complimentary therapist at Blythe House. After the day session had finished, I was driving to Rhyl for a fundraising event with the Masonic Charitable Trust. I felt so relaxed after a small but special treat; it was so nice to have a little bit of “me time.”
‘I’ve also really liked getting involved in the art therapy, working with pastels and watercolours; the service, including volunteers and patients, really helps to open up your mind.
‘The catering staff and volunteers are so courteous to your needs here too. I found my diet changed dramatically as a result of my illness but they catered to my requirements and the food was always delicious.’
After a stint with the Living Well service, Huggy was feeling better and was discharged to start attending our Moving On group, hosted monthly for patients who have been discharged from the service to attend for up to six months, addressing any worries or concerns that they may have.
But it wasn’t goodbye for Huggy! The musician and all-round entertainer came back the hospice regularly to play music and sing to patients, which always went down a treat!
More recently, Huggy, who is a member of a local Mason’s group and has raised funds for charity for much of his life, has started to attend the Living Well service due to complications with his illnesses and feeling unwell again.
He is taking part in the writing therapy group and continues to support the fundraising team with events including putting a good word in with Santa to make sure he attended the hospice’s Christmas fair back in November!