Charity helps hospital open haven for chemo families

A MUSIC charity has helped to open up a family room at the University Hospital of Hartlepool’s chemotherapy ward in memory of a devoted father who lost his battle with cancer last year.

Andy Brown, who was an avid supporter of Music v Cancer and who supported the numerous music events the charity organises, was cared for at University Hospital of Hartlepool.

The 51-year-old technology consultant from Hartlepool, left behind daughter Kate and partner Natalie when he passed away in July last year after a battle with bowel cancer.

But his memory will live on thanks to MvC founder and good friend Tony Larkin who has named the room in his memory.

Pam Hauxwell, former nurse on the chemotherapy ward, who helped treat Andy when he was ill, said: “He was a lovely man. I hope this room can help more people in Andy’s honour.”

Tony Larkin, founder of the charity and who was also diagnosed with bowel cancer, started the organisation after he was given the all clear in 2010.

Tony said: “We thought the best way to recognise Andy’s efforts and what he’s done for the charity was to come up with a project that could be done in his memory.

“The family room project came about when Rosie Livingston from Hartlepool Hospital got in touch, outlining that the current facilities they have for patients to sit and relax with their family was very cramped and small.

“The refurbishment took three months to complete and cost just over £8,000, all of which came directly from the Music v Cancer gig in October 2016, which was held in memory of Andy.”

Rosie Livingston, Deputy Unit Matron on the Chemotherapy Ward at the hospital said: “It’s such a brilliant project. Mainly because everything in the room itself was donated from families affected by cancer as well as from large companies such as Tesco.

“Things like this are important because more and more young people and their parents are coming into the ward and my hope is that this room can offer them the space for respite and privacy that they need.”

Steve Hall, Non-Executive Director of the Trust Board for the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation, said: “What a great facility to have to celebrate the memory of Andy.

“Everyone that uses this room will be able to remember him as well, they’ll know him from the picture on the wall, and for that we thank Tony.

“Also, thanks to Rosie and her team on the chemotherapy ward in particular, we have a fantastic set of caring, passionate professionals and now we also have a great place that patients can use to make their experience here at the hospital even better.”

Michelle Holmes, Chemotherapy Unit Matron said: “The new family room is fantastic as it provides patients on the ward with a place they can go for a bit of time out.

“Treatment rooms can get very hectic and crowded and on tough days when patients need somewhere to escape to, even if it’s just for a few minutes, the room will provide a quiet place for them to sit, have a cup of tea, and relax.

“These small things make such a difference during a patient’s treatment.”

Margaret Brown, mother of Andy said: “Andy used to always say how amazing the staff were here on the ward. He had nothing but praise for Rosie and her team and would come home from the hospital uplifted.

“Seeing this room all finished is brilliant and as Andy had all of his treatment here at Hartlepool, it will be somewhere that his family can come to remember him, and as a place patients can relax with their families.

“A big thank you needs to go to Tony as well, as without him this project would never have been able to happen.”

Music v Cancer is a not-for-profit charity and has held 23 live music events to date and has raised £203,000, which goes towards cancer detection equipment for the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trusts.