7th June 2018

Hospice care inspires partner’s walking challenge

The care of a Worcester woman’s partner has inspired her to raise money for the hospice who supported him 17 years ago.

Sheena MacKenzie will take part in the Worcestershire Way Walk – named the best walk in the UK – next month in aid of St Richard’s Hospice in Worcester.

Ms MacKenzie will take on the 31 mile challenge – which takes place on Friday 6 July – in memory of her partner Rob Furness, also known as Ernie.

Ernie was supported by the Hospice at Home team back in 2001 before he died.  He was 31 years old.

Ms MacKenzie said : “Ernie was generous, kind, very hardworking and very very funny.  A night out with him was like spending a night out with Eddie Izzard!  Ernie had proposed to me before he died but sadly we ran out of time.  He had been receiving treatment for malignant melanoma; we bought a house together and the day we moved in he received his terminal diagnosis.”

Ernie was supported at home by a St Richard’s nurse specialist; following his death the support continued with Sheena receiving counselling.  Such was her experience, that she decided that she too wanted to become a counsellor.

Years later, Sheena started to volunteer as a Family Support Volunteer at the hospice.  This led to Sheena leaving her previous role of 16 years working in substance misuse and addiction – a job she loved – to take up a job as a counsellor within the hospice’s Family Support Team.

She explained : “Loving Ernie and losing him changed the course of my life.  I think I might be a kinder, wiser, stronger person than I was before; I’m not sure that this would have been the case if I had not had the support of the hospice counsellor after Ernie died.  She helped me make sense of my experience of grief. Counselling is such a private experience and we don’t often talk about what goes on, but I feel that it was precious experience. I went onto train as a counsellor, inspired by this experience and, amongst other things, wanting to give back what I had received.”

In 2001, there was no in-patient Unit at the hospice and Sheena has often wondered how things might have been for Ernie had the facility been available then.

Sheena concluded : “I signed up for the Worcestershire Way as it feels like a significant challenge, I have completed two short practise walks which have confirmed that 31 miles is a really really long way! Ernie was not a very outdoorsy type, so he might have responded with bemusement at me making this attempt!

“I like to think he would enjoy the generosity of his friends and many people he knew from 17 years ago still remembering him with love. Many people who did not know him have also donated, touched in so many ways by the work St Richards does.”

To sponsor Sheena please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sheena-mackenzie1.

The trek begins in Bewdley at 6.00am and takes walkers to the slopes of the Malvern Hills. Lunch is at The Talbot at Knightwick.  Last year 130 ramblers raised more than £30,000;

The Worcestershire Way Walk is sponsored by Carisson Properties.  It was recently named the best walk in the UK by outdoor clothing company Blacks and Ordnance Survey.

To sign-up for the walk, visit strichards.org.uk/worcestershire-way/ or contact Emma Price on 01905 763963 or email