When Pam Hepple’s 13-year-old son, Ben, tragically died in 2000 after being diagnosed with bone cancer three-and-a-half-years earlier – she felt she wanted to give something back and make a difference.
And that’s just what she’s done by dedicating her working life to St Oswald’s Hospice for the past 20 years.
Tracey Forrester, was the Macmillan Clinical Co-ordinator on the Child and Teenage Cancer Unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI). She helped to care for Ben when he was a patient there and Pam got to know her.
So, when Tracey joined St Oswald’s Hospice in 2003 as Head of Children’s Services – Pam followed not long after. As one of our Children and Young Adults Administrators, she has been instrumental in helping set up the children’s reception, children’s notes and planning systems.
“After going through such a difficult time after the death of Ben, I knew I needed a change of direction. I come from a history in banking but I wanted to help other children and young adults who were experiencing a similar thing to what Ben had been through.
“I knew I could bring something to the service with my administrative qualities.”
Now, as Pam prepares for retirement and gets ready to bid St Oswald’s Hospice goodbye, she talks fondly about the service that she loves and what has kept her going through the years.
A Growing Service…
Pam has seen many changes and said:
“I’m so proud of the service and how it has grown over the past two decades.”
Angela Egdell, Director of Care Services, agreed:
“Our Children’s Service has grown to include Young Adults and is currently developing its Outreach Service, so that children can access specialist care in their own home.”
“Today, our multi-disciplinary team of skilled care staff provide residential short breaks to babies, children and young adults with life-limiting conditions. These short breaks offer a lifeline to many local families.”
Up to seven children and young adults can stay at any one time in our relaxed, home-from-home environment. Many of them have been coming to stay for monthly breaks for a long time.
As Angela said:
“Pam has been here since the beginning and so many families have got to know her as a welcoming face when they arrive.”
Welcoming the families…
Pam has welcomed 237 children through the service since she started – which is, on average, one a month. She welcomes the parents, carers, children and young adults as they arrive for their short breaks.
Pam smiled as she said:
“I love welcoming families as they drop their child off for their short break. Then seeing them enjoy the activities here and then I see them a few days later, going home, and most of the time, they have a spring in their step.”
“I have loved seeing the children grow, in some cases, from babies to teenagers to young adults. And I will miss seeing our current children and young adults who I have got to know more recently.”
One person that Pam is really going to miss seeing each day is Marianne, her co-administrator and friend.
Pam is looking forward to ‘granny time’ with her two grandchildren, Ollie, 11 and Charlie, 8. She’ll be spending many weekends cheering them on from the side-lines, as Pam explained:
“I’ll be following Ollie around the country watching him play football for Newcastle United Academy – and supporting Charlie as he’s signed as a goalkeeper for Cramlington Juniors.”
We hope you enjoy your retirement, Pam!
Thank you for your support and dedication throughout the years.