“It has given me my life back!” – Members of our Veterans and Serving Personnel Social Group share their experiences

April 27th, 2023 Posted in Blog
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The weekly Veterans and Serving Personnel Social Group, taking place every Monday at our Living Well Centre, offers advice, support, socialisation opportunities, and companionship to all Veterans or Serving Personnel who have been affected by a life-limiting illness.

The group members provide each other with laughs and comfort and – for many – this is a highlight of their week. We asked members of the group to share their thoughts and experiences with us:

After his wife passed away last year, Mick found himself in a challenging situation, struggling to come to terms with the death of his beloved partner. Shortly after learning about the Veterans Group, Mick’s son started driving him to the Living Well Centre, so he could attend the group sessions. Even when he first joined the group, Mick said that he felt comfortable and listened to. “The members are free to talk about anything,” explains Mick, “and I enjoy listening to what everyone has to say. They all share Veterans’ humour, and as such, they all get it”. Mick directly expressed that “every one of this group saved my life. They accepted me for what I was, and I am so grateful to them all. The group starts my week off just right, I appreciate all of the staff and it is nice to see a smiley face – it really is the highlight of my week.”

Derrick, a WWII Veteran in his 90s, is a former fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Whilst serving in his 20s, Derrick experienced being shot down in Italy and was made a Prisoner of War. To capture his reflections on this experience, and to educate his grandchildren, Derrick has written a book called ‘My Life in the RAF’. His son-in-law said encouraged him to join the Rowans Hospice Veterans Group for companionship. Since joining, other members of the group have read his book and describe Derrick as a ‘walking history book’.

After his wife died, Arnold had consequently begun to live an isolated life due to limited mobility, transportation challenges, and his family living far away – until he learned about the Veterans Group. The Living Well Centre contacted Arnold via telephone and organised a volunteer driver, enabling Arnold to attend the group sessions. The Veterans Group gives him something to look forward to and enjoy.

Graham and his wife had been married for 52 years. After she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Graham cared for his wife at home until she passed away. Community nurses invited him to attend the Group. After feeling hesitant at first, he has now formed many new friendships. “If it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The staff and volunteers are amazing;” explained Graham. “The group members support each other with banter and laughs, it is a great opportunity to escape feeling low.”

Ellis’ wife was living with a life-limiting illness and was taking part in the Mindfulness course at the Living Well Centre during this time. The Veterans Group took place at the same time, and Ellis decided to go along. Sadly, Ellis’ wife died two weeks later. There wasn’t a permanent place in the Veterans Group at the time, but as soon as the opportunity came up, Ellis jumped at the chance to join. Everyone accepted him, and he is very grateful for the support and companionship.

John has been a supporter of the Charity for a long time, having previously helped to set up the Hospice. John has experienced the loss of his daughter-in-law, his wife and his stepmother and was lacking social contact. His son suggested attending the Veterans Group, which has given John a big chunk of his life back that had been disappearing. John told us; “it has given me my life back!” John also attends other groups including the Bereavement Cooking course, where he regularly meets other Veteran members.

Peter, an ex-nurse, felt his wife received superior care at Rowans Hospice. After losing his car in an accident, he received support from one of the Hospice’s duty drivers, which enabled him to attend group sessions at the Living Well Centre, where he learned about the Veterans Group and now attends regularly.

This wonderful group makes a difference to so many people affected by a life-limiting illness, and this couldn’t happen without the incredible support we receive from our local community. Find out how you can make a difference and support your local Hospice: https://www.rowanshospice.co.uk/support-us/

Do you, or a person you know, want to attend the Veterans and Serving Personnel Social Group? Please visit https://www.rowanshospice.co.uk/event/veterans-service-social-group/ for more information or contact the Living Well Centre via telephone or email: 023 9224 8011 / LWC@rowanshospice.co.uk

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