Two men sitting in window of a conservatory smiling

A close family from Swadlincote are tackling this month’s Robin Hood Half Marathon in memory of their much-loved dad, grandad, and great granddad, ‘Rocket’ Ron Holden, 89, who died earlier this year.

Ron’s son Mark will be accompanied on the run with grown-up children Ashley, Matthew and Haley, daughters-in-law Clare and Katie, and Haley’s fiancée Bradley.

A real family man

Ron was a real family man as Mark explained:
“If you had cut dad through the middle, you would find one word written throughout, 'family'. As much as his own family came first, he made everyone who came into contact with him feel as if they too were part of his family.
"He had a heart as big as an ocean and a gentle kindness."
When diagnosed with dementia around 10 years ago, Ron and wife, Pauline, agreed they wanted to receive care in their family home.
Two grandparents with three children sitting by a statue
Pauline and Ron Holden with their grandchildren

Home was a place that dad cherished

“Home was a place that dad cherished dearly,” Mark continued. “It was a place full of both happy and sad memories. A place of tears of joy and sadness, and all the other trials and tribulations that come with a family. But more over it was a place of overwhelming love and laughter.
“Mum and dad shared a devotion to each other that the majority of us can only dream of. It was this devotion that enabled dad to be loved and cared for at home right the way throughout his illness until he finally passed away.”
As Ron’s condition deteriorated, the family got in touch with Treetops Hospice for extra help.
Older couple with arms around each other and big smiles
Pauline and Ron Holden

Hospice at Home nursing care

“Dad had to stay downstairs towards the end. He had his bed in the lounge and mum was sleeping on the settee if there was no-one there at night. “We were having carers in four times a day and four nights a week. But as it got closer towards the end, mum was finding it very difficult.”
Treetops Hospice at Home nurses helped care for Ron at home at the end of his life.
“The Treetops Hospice at Home nurses made it easier because it allowed us to get some rest at night-time. We could then focus on caring in the daytime.
As a family, it gave us peace of mind that there was going to be someone with dad and my mum during the night. It allowed mum to get some sort of decent rest.

Time with dad

“It can be a bit of a rollercoaster with real ups and downs, but the Treetops nurses had the experience, and the time to talk to us.
We wouldn't have had the same amount of time, quality time, with dad without the Treetops nurses. Dad and mum wanted him to be at home and Treetops were able to make that happen.
Man with grey hair and big smile
'Rocket' Ron Holden
Mark admits he’s not a keen runner and finds the thought of the half marathon rather daunting:
“I did a little bit of running when I was younger, but not much anymore. So, I’m looking forward to the end of the half marathon.
“For me, it’s more about the camaraderie of us all doing the race. We'll all start together but I'm sure there'll be some competition amongst us as to who’s going to finish first."
Mark’s wife Paula and several other family members including Ron’s great-grand-children will be in the crowd encouraging them to the finish line.