"I’m Laura, I’m 24 years old and I’m from London. I’ve just graduated from university and moved to Geneva, Switzerland to start a new job.

In January this year my mum, Philippa, passed away in the care of Royal Trinity Hospice, one year and a half after being diagnosed with cancer. When we got the news that she only had a few weeks left, she was very anxious that she would have to spend them in hospital, where we would only be able to see her during visiting hours, talking in hushed voices and without the peace and privacy that she – and we – needed to say goodbye.

The moment she was moved to Trinity, everything changed. She was happy, relaxed, and cared for night and day with the love, gentleness and respect that characterises all of Trinity’s wonderful staff and team.

Myself, my father and my brother were able to spend those last few days, sleeping and waking, at her side. And we were all there with her when she passed away, one week after moving into the hospice, holding dad’s hand.

In so many ways, Trinity made that final week gentle, peaceful, even beautiful in its way – in a way we never would have thought it could be. There were the staff and volunteers, endlessly patient, understanding and kind, and at the same time always professional, efficient and on the ball: a constantly reassuring presence, going above and beyond to take care of mum at all times.

Knowing that she was as comfortable, as peaceful, as well-looked after as she could possibly be allowed us the peace of mind to just be with her, to enjoy being with her, during those final few days.

There was the big, serene, airy room we were given, looking out over the beautiful gardens. And then there were all the little touches: the teas and coffees, the friendly chats, the camper beds so that we didn’t have to leave her side at night. I’ll never forget the surreal moment when, as I was sitting up keeping watch at about 3 o’clock in the morning, a nurse popped her head in to say that we could help ourselves to sandwiches and cakes from the three huge boxes that the Ritz had just donated, which were sitting on the table in the foyer.

I’m really not sure whether mum would be more amused or horrified at the idea of me doing a half marathon, but I know she’d love the spirit of it, and she’d certainly applaud the cause. As a sporty person who loves a challenge, there’s very little I won’t take on – but long distance running has always been the one thing I’ve hated and resisted with a vengeance. So, it seemed like the best challenge I could set myself, in memory of the bravest and most resilient woman I’ve ever known.

It wasn't an easy ride. In March I badly injured my right leg, which left me unable to train for four months. But, having worked hard on physio and rehabilitation since then, I felt confident and excited to cross that finish line on October 18th come hell or high water, by hook or by crook.

What I was most looking forward to, on the day, is the sense of completion, of achievement, strength and progress: the joy of knowing that I’ve done my mum proud, and that all the hard work, energy and emotion I’ve put into this over the last several months is coming to fruition and making a difference in the most important way.

Saying goodbye to someone you love is a pain unlike any other. And I had always imagined that there would be no room for joy or peace at such a time.

Trinity, however, eased that pain and managed to do the unimaginable: to create a space of love, compassion, peace, even of happiness, within which to say goodbye. What was, for us, one of the hardest and most intense weeks of our lives, is what the team at Trinity live and breath every single day and night, caring for terminal patients and their loved ones.

To anyone thinking of making a donation, you have no idea how much of a difference even the smallest gesture can make. Back in January we all agreed – my dad, my brother and myself – that when all was said and done, we’d make it a priority to give something back to Trinity, who had given us so much: to help them continue to do, for other families, what they did so wonderfully for us.

Please help us do just that.

Sign up for The Royal Parks Half Marathon 2019 here

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