Phone human-readable description of the message we trying to accomplish. Search human-readable description of the message we trying to accomplish. Map pin human-readable description of the message we trying to accomplish.

Call our 24/7 advice line for health care professionals and families if you need support with symptom management and end of life care - 01284 766133.

Your Experience survey

If you have used our Hospice's services, please consider taking some time to inform us of your experience.

Kate Denton and Anthony Faulkner

Kate Denton and Anthony Faulkner have supported the Hospice for many years. They have hosted various fundraising events at their home, Lavenham Hall, including open air performances of Shakespeare’s plays and opening up their gardens. To raise funds, Kate will also be using her talents as an artist to create a unique sculpture as part of our celebrations of 40 years of St Nic’s and our care in the community.

“They told us there was nothing they could do.”

Kate and Anthony’s journey with St Nic’s began 12 years ago following Kate’s cervical cancer diagnosis in 2011.

Kate explains: “I had already had a lot of radiation and chemotherapy treatment, and they had said that it had worked really well.

“But then, about six weeks later, I still felt just as unwell as I had when I was first diagnosed. I rang Addenbrookes, who remembered me because it had only been six weeks. I went for a scan the following day as they had a cancellation.

“Thankfully, Anthony was able to come with me. I had the scan, and they told me to hang around, and they’d give me the results. We went in a room, and they told us there was nothing they could do and gave me 12 weeks to live.”

“I wanted to make sure we could spend that time together.”

Kate and Anthony received the news that Kate was only expected to live for 12 weeks on December 23, 2011.

“It was all pretty shocking. We were both traumatised, obviously, and we staggered home. I rang the Hospice, made an appointment, and they saw me the next day,” recalled Kate.

“I wanted help. I was in a lot of pain, and I wanted help with how to tell the children, and I wanted help for my husband, who was struggling to take it in.

“I said if it is only 12 weeks, I want you to help keep me on my feet. Please give me the drugs that will keep me out of pain, but I want to be lucid. My son was 20, and my daughter was a bit older, but we were all very close, and I wanted to make sure we could spend that time together.”

“We felt able to have those conversations.”

When Kate and Anthony came to the Hospice for the first time, they met Dr Jenna Kitchen, our Palliative Care Consultant at the time.

Anthony said: “Jenna was brilliant. We got on really well with her. We were all quite similar. We were around the same age. We’d all been through the 1960s.

“We had lots in common and had some very bizarre conversations. One minute, we’d be talking about the ’60s. Do you remember them? Weren’t they fun, and didn’t we all do some naughty things? Then, next, we’d be talking about who Kate wanted in the room when she died. We felt able to have those conversations.

“It is obviously a very odd situation sitting with your wife, your life partner and waiting for your first meeting with the Hospice and you sort of think – gosh, is this what it has come to?

“But it always felt like a really happy place, which is very bizarre considering the circumstances. It was a very weird feeling. I can’t really describe it.

“Now I am one of the Hospice’s Trustees and hear others say it. They describe what a happy and joyous place the Hospice is, which seems extraordinary, but it is.”

“You get so much more than the medical assistance.”

What does it feel like coming into the Hospice? “It feels like coming home,” replies Anthony.

When Kate first came into the Hospice, she wanted pain relief and for her pain to be managed in such a way that it would allow her to live the next weeks and months as she wanted.

She says: “At the hospital, I was given paracetamol, and they told me they couldn’t give me anything stronger, and I just thought that is just ridiculous.

“But then, the moment I stepped into the Hospice the next day, they just did everything they could. Jenna was brilliant; she sorted pain relief, sent me for transfusions, and did everything to keep me on my feet. She was amazing.

“That had been what I had hoped for, but I got so much more. You get so much more than the medical assistance.

“I wanted to live. If I only had 12 weeks, I wanted to make them count. I felt like the Hospice wanted to help me do that.”

The little things that became not-so-little

Kate added: “The next day, I had someone from the Hospice come here (their home), and they suggested a blow-up mattress to go on my bed to make me a little more comfortable. I was visited several times a week for different things and to see how I was getting on. We had amazing support, but I was going downhill very quickly.

“The backup was unbelievable. It was complete. Whether at home or visiting the Hospice. I remember sometimes I’d go in for an appointment with Jenna, and then I’d go and sit and have a cup of tea, and always someone would come and sit and chat and ask me how I was doing.”

Anthony added, “I remember ringing on December 31 when Kate was really struggling, and Jenna was there. I asked if I could give her more of this or that, and she gave me advice. She was there. They were always reachable.”

“Being asked to conduct an orchestra when I had never actually played music before.”

St Nic’s isn’t just there for the person who is ill, but for their loved ones too—emotional and psychological support and practical advice for those caring for someone.

Anthony received support from our Family Support Team (now Psychological Services).

He reflected: “While this was happening, I also had a lot of support. I spoke to David from the Family Support Team, which I found extremely helpful. I’d ask him, ‘Am I doing this right?’ I didn’t know what to do.

“The way I always used to describe how I felt to people was that I was being asked to conduct an orchestra when I had never actually played music before.

“I was trying to manage the children, trying to manage the friends, trying to manage the palliative care and the doctors. I had no idea if I was doing it right.

“I didn’t have a clue, so I had a lengthy conversation with David, and he said, ‘You are doing fine. It is a very difficult situation, but you are doing brilliantly. Just keep going.’

“And that was really useful to know.”

An infinitesimally small chance

Having received Kate’s diagnosis just before Christmas, everything went a bit quiet until January 3, when they had a call from Addenbrookes. One of their senior surgeons had looked at Kate’s notes, and they wanted to talk to her.

Anthony explained: “We went in, and the surgeon told us he could operate. He told us there was a chance he wouldn’t be able to do anything, and that was quite a high chance. There was a smaller chance he could do something, but at a push that would give Kate another year, and it would take her that year to get over the operation, and there was an infinitesimally small chance he’d be able to do more than that.”

The operation, which lasted 12 and a half hours, was a pelvic exenteration (pelvic clearance), which is a major operation to remove multiple organs in the pelvis.

The operation went well. Kate and Anthony continued to receive help and advice from the Hospice during the months after.

“Even after the surgery and I was recovering, the Hospice was there. Once you develop that relationship, it’s always there, and I just feel very blessed that I went to the Hospice,” added Kate.

Anthony said: “Having been through this experience, we are both very comfortable talking about dying. It is something that is going to happen to us all.

“We do have the slight attitude that if you’d said to both of us the day before Kate had her huge operation, you can either take what comes or you can drop dead in five years to the day; we would have taken five years like a shot because that looked like a really good option back then. The fact that we are now in year 13, so we’ve “won”, and every day that Kate is here is a good day.”

“They have got my back.”

Kate says she will always recommend people contact the Hospice should they need its support, and she’s always happy to share her experience with people if they feel it will help them.

Kate explains: “Having had the experience I had at the Hospice, I just always feel that they have got my back.

“A lot of people come to me and tell me they have cancer, and because I’ve had it, they feel more able to talk to me. They want to talk to somebody about it, which I am more than happy to do, but I always tell them you should contact the Hospice. They will be able to help.

“The Hospice just gives you a lot of confidence that you will have help and that there is help. I know I said that if I could, I wanted to die at home, but I’d also decided that after having lots of contact with the Hospice, I would be happy to die there.”

“I have said the same to people who have lost somebody and are really struggling. I tell them to go to the Hospice and ask them about grief counselling,” Anthony added.

Giving back to St Nic’s

Both Anthony and Kate have continued to support the Hospice. They’ve held fundraising events at their home, donated commission from their gallery, and donated the fees from letting people wander around their garden.

Anthony explained: “We have always done lots of fundraising. We are blessed to live in this glorious house and have this wonderful garden, and we say it’s open by appointment, and then when people come, we say, actually, would you like to give £5 to the Hospice, and they do.”

“We’ve also done plays in front of the house. Last year, we did Midsummer Night’s Dream, and that raised £8,500.” “It’s a real joyous way to raise money,” added Kate.

Kate also became a member of the Hospice’s User Group, which was a group that allowed those who had experienced hospice services or their loved ones to give feedback on their views and thoughts to help develop the Hospice’s care.

In 2022, St Nic’s asked if people would be willing to support the charity as Trustees to help support the development of our services and ensure the charity is well-run and its future within the community, and Anthony put his name forward.

“I have a banking background and haven’t done much with it in the 10 years since I left it, but I put myself forward as a Trustee as I thought if they need me, I’m willing to help. If they want me, I’m here; if not, that’s fine.

“I thoroughly enjoy my role as a Trustee. It has its challenges, but if I can make a small difference, then I am happy to do it,” said Anthony.

“What if I make a sculpture?”

Kate has worked for over 40 years as a sculptor, working on her own creative and commissioned pieces.

Last summer, Anthony met with the Hospice’s CEO, Linda, and our Income Generation Director, Clare, to discuss fundraising during the Hospice’s 40th year. Kate was in charge of the refreshments, but she had an idea.

Kate explains: “The meeting had absolutely nothing to do with me. I was making the coffee; that was my job.

“It was in the summer, and they were talking about the whole rollout of fundraising during the 40th year. I just said I’ll keep quiet and make the coffee.

“That morning, on the local news, another local sculptor had just made a massive head in bronze and loaned it to the Lowestoft Festival. The advertising they got for it was fantastic. I was sitting there thinking, well, maybe I could do something for the Hospice.

“So when they were talking about how to raise the profile, I said, can I just butt in and I said, what if I make a sculpture?

“Linda said yes and suggested that we could put it in the cathedral for the Hospice’s service in May (2024), and then we had a whole conversation about what it would be.”

Kate has worked on the sculpture’s maquette, which is a model for a larger piece of sculpture, in December, and this will help her visualise how the finished sculpture may look.

Kate’s original idea was to do her interpretation of La Pietà (Jesus and Mary at Mount Golgotha representing the Sixth Sorrow of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Michelangelo). However she felt this was too much about dying rather than the hospice’s calling which is to help those that are facing death. The sculpture, which is now well underway and will be cast into cold cast bronze, therefore seeks to portray the hope, help and comfort that the Hospice gives those facing the end of their lives.

Do you have a story about your connection with St Nicholas Hospice Care?

In our 40th year celebration, we want to highlight the many contributions in our Hospice’s history.

We’re aiming to proudly feature 40 faces across the year, could you be someone who has a story to share?

If you are someone who has a fond memory to share, you can do so here.