Because of you...

Stan had a 'good death' at home

Champion racing jockey and trainer Stan Mellor and his wife, Elain, had been used to a busy life before he became seriously ill.

Stan was Elain’s first boyfriend, and had proposed on their first date, and in the following years they both became champions in their own right. Stan was the first jockey to ride 1,000 winners and was champion jockey three years in a row from 1960 to 1962. Elain, meanwhile, became a leading lady jockey on the flat – as well as producing the couple’s two daughters. After retiring from racing they ran their own stables near Wanborough, and later moved to Ashbury in Wiltshire.

Meeting the Queen Mother

But Stan began to feel unwell and was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and put on drugs that could control it for around three to four years. Two years after the diagnosis, he also developed Alzheimers disease. Then in 2019 Elain, who was caring for Stan, also began to feel unwell. Her diagnosis was also devastating – she had leukaemia.

“When we went into lockdown in March 2020, we had to completely batten down the hatches,” says Elain.

“My oncologist said that because my treatment was compromising my immune system it would be best not to have any nurses or carers in the house at all, as we could both be seriously at risk from Covid-19.

“That was hard, because Stan simply couldn’t understand what was going on. Before the pandemic, friends would come in and go through his racing successes with him, which made sense to him, but in March 2020 that had to stop.”

Elain says while doctors were helpful by phone, it was only when the couple were introduced to Prospect Hospice that she felt she could have important conversations about the future.

Elain and Stan on the day they got engaged

“Someone from Prospect Hospice would ring me at least once a week to check on how we were, and whether we needed anything. I’m a very practical person, and wanted to know what Stan’s death was likely to be like. I don’t mind talking about death and dying – during my life I’ve been with four people when they died – but when I’d asked one of the doctors he was very honest and said he didn’t know, because he’d never seen someone die. Whereas I could have discussions with Prospect Hospice about that – and that was really important to me.”

Stan developed an infection and was in hospital for two weeks.

“I knew Stan hated hospitals, and I very much wanted him to stay at home, and to be with him,” says Elain.

“Prospect Hospice was marvellous in getting me the equipment – a hospital bed, commode and other things that we needed for that to be able to happen. I couldn’t have Prospect Hospice nurses or carers in the house because of the Covid-19 risk, but despite that they supported us with phone appointments or simply chats. That was great, especially as I was feeling so ill myself. What stands out from that time is that we had absolutely outstanding care from Prospect Hospice.”

Stan rested in the hospital bed in their large lounge, overlooking their back garden. Elain would sleep on the sofa a few feet away.

“It was the hottest day of the year, 31 July 2020, and I was alone with him. I put a pillow and light blanket on the sofa, then I thought his breathing had changed, so I walked over to him and put my arm around him. Two breaths later and he was gone. Two minutes later, I’d have been asleep.”

Elain says that despite working with her remotely, Prospect Hospice managed to provide the support she needed.

“They always gave me their time, and I could tell them anything. I could also ask anything. The way they endorsed what I was feeling and reassured me I was doing everything right. Stan and I had been married almost 60 years. Prospect Hospice helped make sure that he had a good death.”

Because of you...

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