Tribute to Richard Hughes, former patient of our Wellbeing Centre #wirralhospice #wellbeing #inspiration #therapy #patientcare #nursing #wirral #hospicehero #thankyouPublished on: 12/04/2019
Richard Hughes loved the atmosphere in our Wellbeing Centre at Wirral Hospice St John’s. He was up for a laugh and a joke with loads of great stories, which he was more than happy to share with us.
He had the most infectious chuckle too, which made it a real pleasure, as well as a privilege, to have spent some time with him finding out about his life.
He was born in 1940 in Paignton, Devon. His dad, Frank, was a waiter on, what is now fondly called, The English Riviera. Sadly, Richard’s mum died when he was only 15 months old. When his dad met and married a new lady, “a wonderful woman who brought me up, Marguerite”, he had no real recollection of his birth Mum, Eva.
In later life, Richard and his family traced Eva’s resting place to the picturesque village of Collaton St Mary, in South Devon. They had a memorial plaque sited there in her honour and would revisit the spot as often as possible.
Richard spent most of his childhood growing up in Liverpool. (His dad had moved to work for Napier’s, later English Electric (now BAE), which manufactured aeroplane engines and motor cars but also made ammunition for WWII). Richard was a keen sportsman, loving football, cricket and also, notably, basketball. In 1954, Richard was in the Prince Rupert school team which won the All Liverpool school’s championship.
Richard met his wife, Pamela, by a massive coincidence, in Torquay, near, you guessed it, Paignton in Devon! Richard was on a holiday with his cousin revisiting the area where he was born and Pamela was living with her family in this most beautiful part of England.
They were soon courting and married in 1966, at St John the Baptist Church in Tuebrook, Liverpool. More than fifty years later, Richard would simply say of Pamela, “I just love her to bits”. (Here’s Richard and Pamela pictured on the right).
They’ve got three daughters, Maria, Julie and Jennifer, and seven wonderful grandchildren, “The Magnificent Seven,” Richard warmly told us.
In his early career Richard, who left school at 15, worked as a cocktail bar tender at the old Strand Hotel in Liverpool. He tells a story about the time he prepared the punch for a very wealthy Liverpool family’s wedding. Mixing a cocktail of red wine, white wine, gin, other spirits and lots of fruit juice. The punch was literally flowing! So much so that he was asked by the family for his recipe. Richard laughed, “Blowed if I could remember what I put in it! If they’re still using the recipe I gave them, it definitely isn’t the one I used!”
The growing family moved out to North Wales, first to Queensferry and then onto Colwyn Bay (it had been recommended that they move nearer to the sea for middle daughter, Julie, who had severe asthma). They spent 30 happy, very busy, years there. The house in Colwyn Bay had eight bedrooms and, for six of those years, they ran a popular B&B. It must have been brilliant as Richard told me of the vistors from Ireland who came to stay for one night and ended up staying for 3 weeks!
Richard would prepare breakfast, then go to work in the local supermarket, back to serve dinner and then off to work in the evenings in a local pub. Now, that was a full schedule!!!
They all became entwined in life in North Wales. Richard was especially proud to have been invited, with Pamela, to the 25th anniversary of the investiture of Prince Charles, as Prince of Wales, in Caernarvon in 1994.
A back problem, leading to spinal fusion for Richard, saw a change in direction, workwise, for the family. Pamela went to teach at Llandrillo College and Richard returned to college to study! After achieving his British National Diploma (BND) in public services. He joined the North Wales police service as a civilian officer. He worked in traffic and then in the crime statistics department. As a steward in NALGO (now UNISON) he endeavoured to improve the lives of all the support staff.
Richard loved the camaraderie of the workplace. Organising various trips, with theatre visits, days out to other parts of Wales, stately homes in England, London excursions and even a vacation in New York. All in all, another twenty three happy years.
Richard and Pamela enjoyed rambling. (Richard is captured here in his full walking accoutrements). There are some beautiful places in North Wales, and around Wirral, where such passion for striding out can be indulged. It was while in the North Wales police that Richard organised a walk to celebrate the millennium. People from all the police forces in the UK were invited to take part and eventually, 275 hardy souls set off on the, circa, 25 miles from Clwyd Gate, near Ruthin, to the coastal town of Prestatyn.
It’s more than a challenging distance and ‘undulating’ to say the least. There were check points all along the way for food (tons of scones and Bara Brith), loads of crisps, first aid posts (with blisters at a premium) and gallons of water. Richard giggled when he recalls the phone call he received on the Monday following this first walk, “which idiot organised that?” and then, after a short pause, Richard answered “I did, and we’ll be doing it all again, every other year!”
He gave great credit to Pamela for all the organisation and support. “She’s the greatest administrator, EVER!” He said proudly.
With the first one under their belt subsequent years became more popular, with the £10 entry fee going to the British Red Cross. Other people would also raise money for their own charities. Rock and Roll nights added to the fun, following the walk, which became, ‘The Walk you’ve been waiting for, from Mountain to the Sea’.
After moving to Irby in Wirral in 2006, Richard and Pamela continued with their love of walking. He became Walks Secretary of the Heswall Midweek Ramblers and they completed many charity walks, including Hadrian’s Wall and a Metropolitan Police organised event in Windsor Great Park.
Richard was open about his illness. Living with prostate cancer he had received various hospice services. He spent time in Inpatients for pain relief, “it was the best B&B and hotel I’ve ever stayed in, well, after mine and Pam’s in North Wales that is!” he said.
His weekly visit to the Wellbeing Centre saw him enjoying, often instigating, the banter while taking part in all the other activities. (Richard is pictured on the right here with our Wellbeing nurse, Lesley.) From jigsaws, other pastimes, group and individual discussions, quizzes and ‘play your cards right’, to physio and other helpful strategies.
Outside of the hospice he loved visiting his “favourite city”, Liverpool. Trips to the Walker Art Gallery and the Museum of Liverpool Life, (where son in law, Simon, helped install the IT systems) are especially enjoyable.
Richard’s feeling for the hospice staff and volunteers went beyond admiration, he had a genuine fondness for them. He looked forward to his weekly visit to the Wellbeing Centre, “They’re all, simply, brilliant”, he would say.
When I checked with all those who saw him every Tuesday, they all said… the feeling is mutual!
It really was, Richard, it really was!
View from Clwyd Gate (Thanks to Sue Warwick for photo)
Author: Billy Howard