Lena and Lee Porter's Hospice Story - Midnight Walk 2023

Since 2016, St Elizabeth Hospice’s much-loved Midnight Walk has seen the independent Suffolk charity encourage the local community to don their brightest fancy dress outfits and bring the party atmosphere to Ipswich to raise funds for the hospice through sponsorship, as well as providing an opportunity to remember loved ones who are no longer with us.

This year is no different, with the 2023 edition of the flagship fundraiser seeing hundreds of supporters set to wear neon clothing as they complete walks of 5 or 10 miles throughout Suffolk’s county town, going past landmarks such as The Waterfront, Portman Road – the home of Ipswich Town FC – and Christchurch Park.

One person who will be taking part in this year’s Midnight Walk, is Lena Porter, who will also be setting our walkers on their way as she pays tribute to her husband, Lee Porter, who died aged 46-years-old in January 2022, from bowel cancer, while under the care of St Elizabeth Hospice.

“I did the Midnight Walk a few years ago with work colleagues, as we were keen to support such an important local charity, but I had no idea in the coming years I would have my own hospice connection,” said Lena.

“When we took part in the Midnight Walk it really was a buzzing night. Lots of energy and laughter and a great party atmosphere. This time there will be plenty of meaning behind why I am taking part and I am very proud to be doing this in tribute to Lee.

“It’s going to be a big night, but I will have friends and family with me as we complete our walks. Every step will be for Lee and the hospice, as we show our gratitude for the amazing care they gave him and our family.”

Every year St Elizabeth Hospice cares for more than 3,000 patients and their families throughout East Suffolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

This care sees the independent Suffolk charity providing free services – whenever and wherever it is needed, whether at home, in the community or at the hospice – to those living with a progressive or life-limiting illness.

Lena’s husband, Lee, came under the hospice’s care in late 2021. He was a familiar face to many in the local area, working at the Port of Felixstowe for over 20 years and through being a member of football teams as well as an avid golfer and all-round sports fanatic.

Lena added: “Lee was diagnosed in September 2018 with stage 3 bowel cancer, following an emergency surgery due to a bowel blockage.

“Eight months later this had advanced to stage 4 and had also spread to his liver. We tried everything we could to find a cure – lots of treatments and surgeries – but from September 2021 his health deteriorated and he desperately needed more pain support.

“This is when he came under the care of St Elizabeth Hospice. The hospice staff treated Lee with such respect and dignity, and they fought for him all the way. Prior to St Elizabeth Hospice I felt alone in caring for Lee, but with the hospice I could lean on them too, as they supported Lee, myself and my whole family.

“Their 24/7 phone helpline, OneCall, gave us such reassurance and guidance – I finally felt ‘thank God, someone is listening to me and they are helping us’.

“Between October and December, the hospice’s community team would visit Lee at our home (in Ipswich), and thanks to their support we were able to be together, as a family, at Christmas.

“We are a Christmas-mad family and we knew it would be Lee’s last Christmas, so to be together at such a special time of the year meant the world to Lee, myself and our two sons – Danny and Jay.

“After Christmas, Lee then came to the hospice’s inpatient unit and the nurses were absolute angels.

“A few months prior to this, he told me that he wanted to die at the hospice as he felt so safe under their care and he did not want the boys and I having a lasting memory of him dying in our home. I genuinely think he felt at peace knowing the hospice team looked after me too – they are amazing.

“Every staff member made a difference to us. They just have a way about them and their love and attention goes so far. Lee and I even shared giggles with the staff and the food was brilliant too.

“Our two boys were able to visit Lee a lot and we were all together at the hospice to celebrate Jay’s birthday as a family, opening presents and cards.

“During Lee’s last few days, they moved him to a family room at the hospice, so I could sleep overnight and be with him. Even when he was unresponsive, the staff would talk to Lee and explain what medication they were giving him. It was just outstanding care and it really melted my heart.

“They help you feel not alone during such a daunting, frightening time. Their comfort and reassurance is so valuable and they support the whole family. The care my family and I have received through the hospice’s counselling team – LivingGrief has made such a difference to our lives as well.

“Prior to Lee’s care we had never stepped foot in a hospice but the whole process has opened our eyes to the breadth of their services and difference they can make to patients and their loved ones.”

To book Midnight Walk 2023 tickets visit https://register.enthuse.com/ps/event/MidnightWalk202312

Find the latest Midnight Walk news by visiting www.facebook.com/StElizabethHospiceMidnightWalk/.

For any queries please email our events team at midnightwalk@stelizabethospice.org.uk

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