A River of Memories: Wellbeing Centre volunteer Sue Watson creates a mosaic for the hospice in memory of husband Phil

Published on: 11/03/2024

Any Latin scholars, we know there are thousands of you, will remember that one of the first language structures you are ever taught is that of ‘Amare’, which is the verb, ‘to love.’

“Amo, Amas, Amat, Amamus, Amatis, Amant.”

Translating from the Latin to English is,

I love, you love, he, she, it, loves, we love, you (plural) love, they love.

Okay, are we all clear?… No?…  See me after school! 

Why are we telling you this?

Well, because our Wellbeing Centre volunteer, Sue Watson, an art teacher herself, was married for over twenty years to Latin teacher, Mr Phil Watson, and love, as it does, played a huge part in their lives.

Mr Watson, or Phil as we all knew him at the hospice, was a patient with us.

Phil had been living with a lung cancer diagnosis after 2017 and, by 2021, came under the care of our outpatients’ doctors’, Andy Jones and Susan Cureton.

Wife, Sue, told us,

“Although Phil’s care had been exemplary at Clatterbridge he felt more like the hospice got him.

As well as recommending the right course of action for his ongoing support, our hospice people, doctors, nurses, other staff and volunteers, knew who he was. He felt part of a community, with people he could turn to. Just like his own family.

Phil embraced the Wellbeing Centre’s strategies to cope with fatigue, anxiety and breathlessness enjoying the help, camaraderie and, also sometimes,the laughter. His absolute favourite, however, was Friday morning’s baking group.

Other patients and the volunteer team, Fiona, Maggie and Muriel (sadly now passed away also) created so much fun while the baking itself was a welcome distraction and something to look forward to every week.

He’d bring home lemon drizzle, scones, sponge cakes of all varieties, muffins, meringues, Eccles cakes and much more.

It might sound a little strange, but I know that in those moments he was as happy as some of the happiest moments in his life.”

Sue recognised the value of Phil’s time at the hospice, so much so, that she too wanted to get involved, to volunteer for the group.

“There was a week when Phil was concerned that he might miss the Friday get-together because two of the ladies were to be away and, really, the group has to be facilitated by two volunteers, with staff always close at hand if there are immediate care needs.

I told him that I could fill in and was happy to do dishes to support the volunteers.

Of course, it takes a little longer for people to be allowed to work in patient areas so, soon after, DBS checked and ready to go, I joined the regular volunteers.

I think I broke the mould, no pun intended, when I got to join the baking group volunteers while Phil was still a patient. That was a lovely time.”

By May 2023, Phil’s illness had significantly progressed and Sue saw yet another side to the hospice.

Our Hospice at Home team were part of his care and support in his final days.

“I really don’t know what I would have done without them. I’m not overstating it when I say they were like angels sent to help us. Phil’s passing was as peaceful and dignified as it possibly could be.”

Sue then also received bereavement support and, after a time, was very happy to rejoin the baking group. She now also adds a Wednesday afternoon volunteering stint in our Wellbeing Centre check in and chat sessions with patients who have been through the initial, 3 or 9 week, wellbeing courses but also want to stay in touch.

“Wednesdays are brilliant. Most of the time we’re having great fun with the patients, taking part in quizzes, singing, gym-ball drumming and generally catching up. 

And, of course, I really love the baking group. I’ve got new friends and feel like I am where Phil would like me to be. He’s always with me in spirit.”

Sue was born and bred in Wirral, while Phil was originally from London. They have a blended family with Phil’s children Sue and John and grandson Zak. Sue’s daughter, Rhea, lives in Mexico where Sue will soon join her for a welcome spring break.


Finally, when chatting with the hospice’s spiritual coordinator, Heather, Sue explained she was a retired art teacher.

In the patio area outside of the Hub Café, around a decorative fountain, the hospice has a space where families who attend memorial services for their loved ones who have previously been hospice patients, are encouraged to leave a message on a pebble and place it in the ‘river.’

The area is marked by a mosaic proclaiming River of Memories and it was in need of an update. Heather asked Sue if she might like to have a go at creating a new one.

Sue jumped at the chance and has recently completed the mosaic which now marks the area splendidly. (Here she is pictured with Heather).

Fond memories all round for Sue and can we say, in Latin, on behalf of everyone at the hospice,

Amamus eam!… We love it…

…Omnino! Absolutely.


Regular donations, monthly, 6-monthly or annually, enable us to support people like Phil and Sue when they’re facing the most challenging time of their lives. If you’d like to support us in this way you can find all the ways to do so at www.wirralhospice.org/regulargiving