91-year-old patient abseils down Ipswich hospital to raise money for the hospice


John with his wife Jean after his abseil

Six months ago, John Morley, 91, didn’t think he’d leave hospital alive: this May, he abseiled down its maternity block raising money for St Elizabeth Hospice and the hospital as he went.

John has been coming to day services at the hospice regularly for the past year, ever since his nurse, Sonja, referred him from the hospital. Coincidentally, she followed him shortly afterwards, becoming a clinical nurse specialist who now helps care for him at the hospice.

“I had become very poorly in October 2016,” John said. “I was admitted to hospital with gall stones and, in the course of events, I ended up haemorrhaging from my stomach. When the stent the surgeon fitted needs replacing later this year, I will be contacting the hospice to arrange tailored pain relief for me as I live with a number of medical conditions, including heart disease and kidney failure.”

Whilst he may be a patient at the hospice, that doesn’t mean he cannot do some fundraising and on Saturday 27 May 2017, he prepared to do his sixth abseil – dressed as Spiderman.


John half way down the maternity block at Ipswich Hospital

“I am pleased to have raised £1,000 for St Elizabeth Hospice by doing this; they do so much for me” he said.

“My fortnightly visits to the hospice are very important to me. On my first visit, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was greeted with a cup of tea, offered a biscuit and handed an extensive menu from which I was to make my lunch choice.

“I could relax. My wife Jean was having a break and some peace of mind, knowing I was being cared for.”

Each subsequent visit gives John the chance to chat with a nurse or healthcare assistant to fill them in on his most recent two weeks. They discuss any health problems and notes are made. “I can then have a deeper discussion with Dr Margaret, if necessary” he says. “She sorts out new prescriptions; contacts my GP there and then so that when I go home, any medication is ready and waiting at my own surgery. Such back-up is invaluable to me.”

Talking of his experiences of using the day services at St Elizabeth Hospice, John says: “I enjoy physiotherapist Jacky’s relaxation classes in the gym and the meditation we do which sometimes sends me to sleep!

“After what is always a gorgeous lunch, especially if it involves soup, I get to join in with word games and puzzles in a group setting. It’s good to keep using your brain and testing my ignorance.”

John is picked up and taken safely back home by volunteer drivers Tony, Adrian or Gerry. “The door-to door service, is absolutely brilliant” he says. “I am so very impressed with the transport.”


Staff from St Elizabeth Hospice turned up to support John

So what does the hospice day service really mean to John? 

“I love the immediacy of the response I receive at St Elizabeth Hospice and it’s good to get out and to mix with a variety of people whom I wouldn’t otherwise meet.

“Both my wife and I intend to keep supporting St Elizabeth Hospice in our different ways for as long as we can – I am already planning another abseil for my 100th birthday!”

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