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Colchester based care provider helps make dreams come true for customer with terminal illness

26 Mar Colchester based care provider helps make dreams come true for customer with terminal illness

Dreams are coming true for a Colchester man living with a terminal heart condition, thanks to the caring nature of the team at care provider ECL in Colchester.

Roger Pearce, aged 78, was feeling very lonely three years ago after a series of deaths in his family, including his wife, mother and son. He’s been a customer at ECL’s Marylands day service since then and enjoys the fun and companionship there, as well as the care and attention from the ECL team who provide special transport to and from Marylands and who arrange activities as well as a hot lunch.

When Sherry Mills, manager at ECL Marylands, heard of Roger’s terminal diagnosis, she came up with the idea for a ‘bucket list’ of activities and asked Roger what he most wanted to do in the few short months he has been given to live.

The bucket list was created by Roger and ECL’s team, led by key worker Tony Brooke, who has made it a reality, being creative and innovative to safely navigate the limitations of the pandemic.

Getting up close with nature was high on Roger’s bucket list and on Monday 22 March Roger had a special visit from Brenda O’Sullivan, who closed her Twilight Encounters business due to the pandemic but who agreed to do a special owl experience for Roger as a one off. She introduced Roger to tawny owl Phoenix, eagle owl Worzel and barn owl Twilight.

A visit to nearby Yarra Farm in Stanway Green has also been arranged.

Roger’s next wish was to conduct an orchestra and the Essex Symphony Orchestra has recorded a special one-off recital for Roger to conduct from the comfort of his home.

‘Lunch with Carol Kirkwood’, Roger’s heart-throb, was unfortunately not possible, but Carol sent a signed photo and personal letter and ECL arranged a three course candlelit meal with a life size cardboard cutout of Carol. Roger’s favourite food including prawns and Spotted Dick & Custard for pudding were on the menu. “I’ve got Carol on my wall, it was a beautiful lunch,” says Roger.

An Elvis tribute act was another request, and impersonator and tribute act ‘Delvis Elvis’ sent a collection of memorabilia including an Elvis book, DVDs and real life footage of Elvis, which was shared with Roger’s daughter Lisa to play to him whenever he wishes.

The final bucket list activity is to fly in a helicopter, which is planned for 12 April from Earls Colne Air Field.

“The wonderful team at ECL came up with the idea for the bucket list and I thought it was such a good idea because I’m doing some of the things I would never have dreamt of doing”, said Roger, who worked as a taxi driver and then as a warehousing assistant manager before he retired. He was also a volunteer for 16 years with St John Ambulance and was a volunteer Fire Officer.

“I’m overwhelmed with the kindness. Everyone at ECL has been incredible throughout the pandemic. If I get into difficulty or something is worrying me, I can talk it over with any of the staff and get it sorted, and now they are fulfilling my dreams for the things I always wanted to do. Conducting the orchestra will be my favourite.”

Sherry Mills, Manager at Marylands, says: “Roger is very sociable and at the forefront of organising card games sessions. He’s been the life and soul here and when we found out about his terminal diagnosis, we wanted to be part of his final days so suggested the bucket list.”

Key worker at ECL, Tony Brooke, who’s worked at Marylands since 2008 and who’s taken charge of fulfilling the bucket list dreams, says: “It’s been really, really humbling to help make this a reality for Roger. As a key worker my job is to support our customers and help them enjoy what they’re doing and it’s a privilege to do this for Roger.”

Marylands is one of 24 ECL Day Services throughout Essex offering day opportunities for people with a range of needs, supporting them to make new friendships, maintain independence and engage with their communities.