Mason and Shelley Fountain's Zest Story - Midnight Walk 2024

Since 2006, 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 2024 edition of the flagship fundraiser, taking place on 18th May, set to see  hundreds of supporters throw on their brightest disco clothes and complete a seven mile circular walk around Ipswich, starting and finishing at Portman Road, the home of Ipswich Town Football Club.

One person who will be taking part in this year’s Midnight Walk, is Shelley Fountain, who will also be setting our walkers on their way as she pays tribute to her son, Mason Fountain, who died aged 18-years-old in July 2023, after having received support from St Elizabeth Hospice and its young adult service, Zest.

“The staff at St Elizabeth Hospice and Zest were always there for Mason and our whole family and by taking on the Midnight Walk, we want to help make a positive difference to the lives of others. As we understand, from our own experience, how important the charity’s services are when support matters most,” explained Shelley.

“The best thing about Zest, was seeing the smile it gave Mason. He loved being at Zest and during an uncertain time, Zest brought reassurance, as well as fun and laughter.

“The whole thing about Zest is it allows young adults, like Mason, to be themselves. To choose what they want to do, to have independence and to have some respite and freedom from their families, as any young person would want. It is a very special and unique service.”

Established by St Elizabeth Hospice in 2015, Zest is a service which sees the independent Suffolk charity work closely with children’s hospice, EACH (East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices), to ensure young adults have a smooth transition into adult care.

Supporting young adults aged 14 and upwards with progressive and life-limiting illnesses, Zest ensures all the young people, under its care, receive specialist support, tailored treatment and services needed to be able to enjoy life to the full.

“Mason was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was just five-years-old,” explained Shelley, who is from Ipswich.

“Following his diagnosis, he had lots of chemotherapy treatment, as well as surgeries to help fight the tumour and when he was 12-years-old he went to EACH for further support. When he turned 16, we then began starting to access Zest for their care, which was a great help in the transition from child to adult hospice care.

“As a person Mason was always smiling, bubbly, joking – just really caring and polite. He was one of six children and he loved his siblings and being part of their lives. He also loved rugby, Ipswich Town Football Club, pottery painting, baking and going to college at Suffolk One, as well as Zest.

“As Mason’s condition deteriorated, we began to use the services of Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice to a greater extent, and in many ways, the hospice became like a second home to us for the last three months of Mason’s life.

“They helped Mason feel comfortable, manage his pain and provided reassurance to our whole family.

“Often people see hospices as scary places but St Elizabeth Hospice is far from scary. My children always felt comfortable and welcome visiting Mason. St Elizabeth Hospice and Zest are just such caring and loving environments to be part of, and Mason’s siblings loved coming to feed the fishes in the hospice pond or having hot chocolates in the dining room.

“While the staff and volunteers are just amazing. They were so loving to us and they all made a positive impact on our family. They understand the situation you are going through, making us feel safe with their compassionate care and, in fact towards the end, they became like friends.

“The hospice’s emotional and bereavement support service, LivingGrief, has been brilliant for us as well. Watching Mason go through so much was hard, but the LivingGrief team were fantastic to myself and my children, giving us an understanding of grief and helping us to learn to live with grief.

“I don’t know where our lives would be without Zest and St Elizabeth Hospice, which is why, alongside our friend Louise and my middle daughter Scarlett, I will be taking part in this year’s Midnight Walk.

“We feel prepared, although emotions will be running high, but will be doing something to give back to this special charity, who supported us through the toughest of times, and any support people can give to our fundraising will mean so much, thank you.”

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