Young couple with toddler sitting on sofa

This Saturday 8 August, friends Tim Butler and Dan Gerlach will be tackling an 80km walk in just 24 hours along the New South Wales coast.

The walkers hope to raise over £500 for Treetops Hospice Care, the Derbyshire hospice that cared for Tim’s late mother in law to be, Patsy Kell, from Duffield.

Thirty-eight year old structural engineer, Tim, emigrated to Australia with his fiance Sophie, over five years ago.

Patsy was a very bubbly and courageous lady

Woman seated, smiling with a drink

Patsy Kell

Sophie’s mum, Patsy, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 aged 70. Tim explained more:

“Patsy was a very bubbly and courageous lady, willing to give anything a go and generally succeeding!

“She became a sculptor in her 60’s – I’m talking carving massive bits of stone with chainsaws! She sang in choirs and was in Derby Choral Union for over 40 years, and even did some hiking in the bush and snorkelling with us in Australia when she visited us just before her diagnosis.

“Patsy lived in the house just by the fire station at the Derby end of Duffield for over 20 years. She was a teacher for most of her career and married with four children.”

“Patsy was given around four months left to live at her diagnosis but managed to hold on for almost 10 months to meet Michael, our son.”

Patsy and her family were referred to Treetops Hospice Care, based in Risley, which provides nursing care and emotional support for adults with life-limiting conditions.

A wonderful service

“The Treetops Hospice at Home nurses provided overnight support while Sophie and I were imminently expecting the arrival of Mikey. They also came for a few hours during the day so Sophie could have a break. The nurses were very friendly and supportive, and provided good companionship.

“Patsy also had a course of complementary therapy – massage – in her home. Having this at home was so beneficial and allowed her to participate for so much longer than if she’d had to travel to the hospice.  She seemed to sleep better and the team were very knowledgeable about her condition and able to suggest different treatments and support to make her more comfortable.

“Treetops also provided Patsy’s family with counselling, Art Therapy and Reiki – it really is a wonderful service.”

The care provided made a huge difference to Patsy and her family.

It took a lot of the stress out of the situation knowing there was someone to help us

“It took a lot of the stress out of the situation knowing there was someone in the house able to help us. Sophie and I were in a situation where we might have to leave the house at any moment because of Michael’s arrival, and having someone able to be there, until one of Soph’s siblings could arrive to help, was a great relief.

Father and toddler son at coast“As it happened, Michael arrived around a month before Patsy passed away, so it was great she could meet him, but also great to have support around us at that time.”

Tim, Sophie and toddler Michael, live in walking distance of Bondi Beach. The idea for the mammoth 80 km fundraising hike came from a short walk Tim and Dan did when they were in lockdown in Sydney earlier in the year:

It’s going to be tiring but we can just power through

“We spotted the Bondi to Manly coastal walk signs and the idea grew from there. The idea to do it in a day just came out of the fact that it’s probably possible to do it in 24 hours – we will find out soon enough!

Coastal walk way“The trail has only recently opened and links the two most famous beaches in Sydney via the whole foreshore perimeter of the harbour. It’s a spectacular walk taking in all the major sights and it goes through a surprising amount of bushland.

“I enjoy walking and have done the Australian equivalent of the Three Peaks with Whitelion, a youth charity over here.

“We are really looking forward to doing it now! It’s going to be tiring but I really hope we can just power through.”

Very proud of them both

HR advisor Sophie, 38, added:

“I’m very proud of them both for doing almost 24 hours of walking, especially as Sydney is surprisingly hilly!

“The route takes in Bondi Beach, the Harbour Bridge, Botanical Gardens, Sydney Opera House and even a nudist beach – although it’s mid-winter here so there may not be any sunbathers out!”

Those who wish to sponsor Tim and Dan, can do so via their JustGiving fundraising page here.

The Treetops Hospice at Home Service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year – even while the Coronavirus pandemic is taking place.

Support is available during the day and overnight, providing families and carers with vital respite, whilst excellent individualised care and support is given to the patient.

Treetops is doing all it can to continue to support those in most need. However, the charity predicts a significant loss in income in the coming months, due to the temporary closure of all their charity shops during lockdown and cancellation of many fundraising events.

An Emergency Appeal was launched earlier this year to ensure the charity can continue to provide Hospice at Home nursing care throughout the pandemic.