Richard and Natalie’s story

Richard was 5 years old & Natalie was 19 when their father, Richard, passed away at the hospice in 1990. 30 years on, their experience continues to inspire them to support the hospice's work through fundraising.
IMG 5259

Richard Shelley and Natalie Paternoster remember their father Richard

"St Elizabeth Hospice had only been open a few months before dad came here. He had come to receive respite care for three weeks and was then cared for at the hospice during his final week. He was only 42 when he passed away from cancer.

Back in 1990, the initial impression my family had of hospices was that of dread and we saw it just as a place loved ones came to die. This could not be further from the truth.

St Elizabeth Hospice was fun and an open place to come. It didn’t matter who or when you visited. We were encouraged to treat the hospice as a home from home.

At the time, I was 19 and Richard was 5 years old, going on 6. The staff were incredibly friendly - particularly the nurses who looked after Richard. A fond memory we have is when I bought him a blue bike for his birthday, which the nurses let him ride around the corridors. Richard kept onto that bike for a long time!

Richard, who was cared for at the hospice in 1990, was a keen artist and drew the above picture which the family treasure.

Richard, who was cared for at the hospice in 1990, was a keen artist and drew the above picture which the family treasure.

Dad was able to enjoy bird watching and art whilst he was here. Painting in the garden became very therapeutic for Dad as he didn’t have the strength to go out anymore. The team encouraged him to pursue his artistic skills and we kept and framed one of his drawings (see pictured).

It didn’t feel like a clinical environment, other than for the care that dad received. This put us all at ease. Not only did the hospice care for dad, the nurses and staff supported us as a family too. Dad was a jolly character, was very family orientated and had a great set of friends. His sisters from America were able to visit him, as well as his friends from work, which meant Mum, Richard and I could have a break.

From a volunteer bringing you a cup of tea to the vicar who helped our family after dad’s death, you cannot put a price on the value of the staff during the most traumatic time. Seeing a friendly face and all the small things during that dark time have left a lasting impression 30 years later.

Since our father’s death, Richard and I have continued to raise money through dad’s Tribute Fund and taking part in fundraising events and challenges.

In March 2019, I raised £800 by jumping out of a plan in honour of my dad’s background parachuting in the army. Each year I have done the Midnight Walk in memory of dad and Richard has put on his own DJ events too.

We love raising money for St Elizabeth Hospice 30 years on as we know the value of their work is so important and it does not just cover the patients. It helps their families too.

We continue to raise money for St Elizabeth Hospice so to keep the memory of dad alive and to say a big thank you to the staff.

They have continued to support us and it is comforting to know they are just a phone call away for people needing support during their bereavement."


Natalie braving a parachute jump in honour of her dad's army background to raise money for St Elizabeth Hospice


Natalie has taken part in Midnight Walk every year - a selection of photographs through the years above

Fundraising during 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has hugely affected our fundraising this year. 70% of our income comes from us raising money so 2020 has been particularly difficult with popular events, such as the Midnight Walk, being postponed or cancelled entirely.

Throughout the year, this is what it takes to fund us at St Elizabeth Hospice:

  • £5 could fund a two course home cooked meal for a patient
  • £12 could fund 5 bereavement packs which are shared with families to help them find ways to manage their grief
  • £25 could pay for clinical support and advice to be provided to a family member via OneCall 24/7
  • £30 could a nurse’s uniform including a tunic and trousers
  • £47 could fund a physiotherapy session for a patient to help them manage their symptoms and pain
  • £60 could fund a blood pressure monitor for the Inpatient Unit or a community nurse to use in patient’s own homes
  • £70 could fund an art therapy session helping people to explore their emotions
  • £74 could fund a one-to-one bereavement session with a trained counsellor for a child or an adult whose loved one has died
  • £124 could fund a group bereavement session helping those whose loved one has died
  • £146 could fund a nurse for a day providing clinical care and support to patients
  • £635 could fund a 24 hour stay for a patient at the Inpatient Unit giving them access to specialist palliative care from our consultants, doctors and nurses
You can still help us though by fundraising through a variety of ways:

Sign up to receive monthly updates

Share your story