Rowcroft boss in moving tribute: 'Words cannot describe how thankful I am'

Mark Hawkins stood outside Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay

Rowcroft CEO Mark Hawkiins - Credit: Pic: Submitted

Looking back on 2020, it’s been such a difficult and challenging year for us all. And yet - through the darkness of this pandemic - we have seen our community shine brighter than ever.  

I would like to applaud and give thanks to the incredible generosity of our local community – to all the hundreds of people who have given time, expertise, hard work and financial support to help us get through this pandemic and continue caring for our patients and families. 

Time and again when things got tough, our amazing South Devon community has been there for us, standing strong by our side. People have stepped forward to lend a hand, stopping at nothing to ensure we can continue to deliver vital care to local people with life-limiting illnesses and their families. It has been one of the most challenging times that we have ever had to face, and yet, despite everything that has been thrown at us, with the support of our community, we have continued to care for our patients and their loved ones. When and wherever our patients needed us, we were there. 

Our wonderful community has shown such concern and compassion and have supported us in so many diverse ways – through so many acts of kindness. Words are not enough to describe how eternally thankful I am. 

We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support. Messages that have kept our care teams’ spirits lifted as they battled bravely on the frontline, working around the clock to deliver the very best care to our patients and families, going above and beyond the call of duty, day after day. 

Our amazing community fundraisers have moved mountains to raise crucial funds to keep our care going. They have leapt into action with fundraising activities including walks, stand-up paddle boarding, virtual discos, head shaves, cake sales, rowing marathons and skydives. One devoted fundraiser, Neil Thomas, even walked from London’s Big Ben to Torquay’s ‘Little Ben’ to raise a staggering £28,000. 

People have been digging deep and giving in so many different ways including: hand-sewing face masks for our staff and volunteers; donating meals and special sweet treats for our care teams; playing the Rowcroft Lottery; shopping in our charity shops and with Rowcroft online; donating pre-loved clothing, furniture and other items for our shops; buying refreshments and meals from our cafes; making donations to our appeals … the list goes on and on. 

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Our volunteers, as always, have been brilliant, and their unwavering devotion to the hospice through this pandemic has been remarkable. They have supported the hospice in so many important ways. I am so grateful to them. 

We have continued to go that extra mile for our patients and families, and there are so many inspiring and moving stories that powerfully reflect how we’ve made a difference. 

Steph’s story illustrates this perfectly. Earlier in the pandemic, Rowcroft had the privilege of caring for Steph’s father, Martin. Due to COVID restrictions, Steph had been unable to visit him in hospital, but with the help of Rowcroft’s Hospice at Home Team, Martin was able to transfer home from hospital to be cared for in his final days at home with his family by his side. 

Steph says: “It meant everything to have my dad at home. To be able to see his face, hold his hand, give him a kiss and hear him call me ‘princess’ one last time meant the whole world. They are memories that will stay with me forever. Sometimes I think back on it with a smile; other times it makes me cry. I cannot thank the Rowcroft Hospice at Home Team enough for giving me those final memories.” 

It is the words of people like Steph that make our work meaningful - that show that we truly do make a difference. As the year draws to a close, and with a COVID vaccine now being rolled out, we look forward to brighter times ahead for 2021.  I’d like to thank you for your support and wish you a safe, healthy and peaceful Christmas.