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This #HospiceCareWeek, we’d like to share Jennifer Turnbull’s inspirational story with you

Jennifer felt an instant connection to St Oswald’s after visiting the Hospice, as part of her work as a solicitor. Jennifer’s Dad, Robert Turnbull, died of cancer in 2015, and Jennifer is making sure his memory lives on through their shared passion for supporting people in need.

Since her first visit to St Oswald’s, Jennifer has made it her mission to fundraise for the Hospice, has become an Ambassador and more recently, has started training as a Bereavement Support Volunteer. 

As a legacy to her Dad, Jennifer has now set up her own charity called The Bobby Dazzler Trust, which helps families in the North East, including those supported by St Oswald’s Hospice.

Jennifer said:

“My Dad was always helping people as it was something he felt very passionately about. I am determined to use my own experiences, and the experiences of my Dad when he was battling cancer, to help others. I choose to believe this is my Dad still teaching me about helping others; had it not been for everything he faced with cancer I would not be doing what I am today.

“One of the reasons that I fundraise is so that I can make life a little bit brighter for people living with an illness. I am also passionate about supporting their loved ones. I saw this first hand with my dad, as his cancer was affecting his mental health and he had problems sleeping. I felt so helpless because I couldn’t find a way to help him. Then I remembered he loved being at the coast so I decided to download a desert island meditation playlist which had sounds of the sea and walking on the sand. I didn’t think he would ever use it but Dad listened to it every day until the day he died; he couldn’t sleep without it. It became his lifeline. That is when I really began to understand the importance of supporting mental wellbeing.   

“This experience helped me to think about what I could do to support others, through The Bobby Dazzler Trust. For St Oswald’s, this has included buying a new Christmas tree and decorations for their Inpatient Unit, brightening the ward for patients who can’t be at home over the festive period, and I am currently raising money for a virtual reality headset, so that patients can be with their families without leaving their hospice bed. Although Dad didn’t use St Oswald’s services I know what an amazing job the Hospice does and I want to do all I can to support it.

“One thing I will always remember my Dad doing was buying tins of biscuits for his loyal customers at Christmas, he made sure he gave them to people who were alone and even weeks before he died I was driving him around so he could give out their presents; he always taught me to make time for people. To carry on this legacy I now bake Christmas cookies, and last Christmas I gave them out to the staff at St Oswald’s to say thank you for their hard work.

“During Covid-19, I also wanted to fundraise for something that really made a difference to service users. The Hospice’s bereavement team recommended activity books for children who use the service, so that they can continue to be supported at home while they can’t physically come in to the Hospice for their bereavement counselling.”

Talking about her own health after her dad died, Jennifer continued:

“After my dad died I struggled with my own mental health as I tried to continue life as normal, when it was very far from it. I now realise that I was on auto pilot for about 3 years. My GP referred me to a counsellor who told me I had severe high functioning anxiety and depression; I couldn’t believe it. I’ve come through the other side of that now I am determined to use my experience and new found knowledge to help others.”

Can you help bring families together?

Thanks to wonderful supporters like Jennifer, she is on a fundraising mission so she can make life a little bit brighter for people living with an illness. Jennifer is going to be walking 97 miles of St Oswald’s Way in Spring 2021 to raise the £3,600 needed to buy a specialist virtual reality headset for our patients, so they can be with their families during these incredibly tough times. If you'd like to make a donation, please click the button below.

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