Burnley man speaks of his affinity with Pendleside Hospice following his dad’s death from cancer

A Burnley man has spoken of his affinity with Pendleside Hospice following his dad’s death from cancer.
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Neil Welsh, who works at PM+M Solutions for Business LLP, has taken part in the Pendleside Corporate Challenge every year since it launched in 2016 to help raise money for the charity.

Neil first became involved in the challenge just months before his dad, Colin, died, after spending his last days at the hospice.

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“In 2016, my dad received a diagnosis of bowel cancer after previously undergoing surgery and treatment for prostate cancer. Despite chemotherapy, his condition continued to deteriorate, leading to multiple hospital admissions, with his final one occurring on Christmas Eve.

Neil Welsh, of Burnley, with his medal from the Great North Run 2022.Neil Welsh, of Burnley, with his medal from the Great North Run 2022.
Neil Welsh, of Burnley, with his medal from the Great North Run 2022.

“Pendleside was the peaceful environment my father needed and by January 2nd, my dad was transferred to the hospice. Despite being told to prepare for his passing within 24-48 hours, my dad defied expectations and spent eight days at the hospice.

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“I was by his side, from early morning until late afternoon, when my mother and sister would take over. Just 10 minutes after returning home one evening, I received a call from my mother informing me of his passing.”

Neil adds that following his dad’s death, he “lacked purpose and motivation. As a lifelong Burnley FC supporter, I had cherished memories of attending matches at Turf Moor with my dad, and although I now go with my son, the absence of my dad's presence weighed heavily on me."

Burnley man Neil Welsh and his dad, Colin, who spent his last days in Pendleside Hospice before he died of cancer.Burnley man Neil Welsh and his dad, Colin, who spent his last days in Pendleside Hospice before he died of cancer.
Burnley man Neil Welsh and his dad, Colin, who spent his last days in Pendleside Hospice before he died of cancer.
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Following his dad’s death, Neil sought bereavement counselling at Pendleside.

"When I got in that room during my first counselling session with Jeanette, it was like sitting in a comfy chair - I felt completely at ease. One thing I struggled to comprehend was that my dad hadn't wanted a 'bucket list', that there weren't things he wanted to do in his final months. Jeanette helped me to understand that this wasn't uncommon, and that people often don't want to leave this world feeling like they haven't fulfilled their life.”

Since his counselling, Neil has continued to advocate for the hospice.

Burnley man Neil Welsh with Elaine Middleton, Head of Corporate Fundraising.Burnley man Neil Welsh with Elaine Middleton, Head of Corporate Fundraising.
Burnley man Neil Welsh with Elaine Middleton, Head of Corporate Fundraising.

"A colleague of mine at PM+M, Faye Holden, also died at Pendleside after being diagnosed with cancer in 2020. So the organisation and I want to continue supporting Pendleside the best we can.”

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Neil participated in the Great North Run in 2022, adding, "It marked my inaugural half marathon and by that point, I'd become a keen runner. My dad was a Geordie and visiting Newcastle is a core memory of mine, so crossing the Tyne Bridge was special. When I got halfway across the bridge, tears streamed down my face.

“It was an unforgettable moment."

Neil and PM+M have also collected donations for Pendleside's retail shops, sold car raffle tickets, and sponsored a Christmas Tree at Light Up a Life in December in Faye Holden's memory.

With the Corporate Challenge launching again in May, Neil added: "I highly recommend other businesses getting involved. I also urge anyone looking for bereavement support to get in touch with the hospice. There is often a stigma around counselling, but having a therapist is like having a coach; their aim is to provide you with the tools and techniques you need, to better your mental wellbeing. It's okay to not be okay."

Pendleside's Family Support Team can be contacted on 01282 440 100.