Patients With Life-limiting Illnesses Experience Ride of a Lifetime on Harley Davidsons

On Thursday 20 July the Hogsback Chapter, a Harley Davidson owners’ group, rode down from Guildford to visit the hospice.

Hogsback Chapter riders with Day Hospice staff -wIt was the fourth time that the Harley Davidsons have visited the hospice, and patients were offered the opportunity to pose for photos, sit on the motorbikes, or even go for a short ride if well enough and physically able to.

Paul Taylor, the lead rider for the Hogsback Chapter on the day, said: “It is four years now that we’ve visited. We come this time every year. Hospices have always been close to me because I lost my wife at a hospice.

“It’s nice to come down and support the people that are here. It means a lot because I know by experience what it means to them and to help them enjoy one day is unbelievable for all of us.”

The Day Hospice at St Barnabas House provides a welcoming environment where those encountering similar experiences can meet in an informal setting, providing the opportunity for mutual support that enhances confidence and wellbeing.

The Day Hospice Team organise events and activities for people visiting the hospice, enabling them to live their lives as fully as possible.

Della Heath, 45, from Sompting has been attending the Day Hospice since January and described the experience of riding a Harley Davidson as “phenomenal”.

She said: “It’s really important to have opportunities like this because it just makes you feel alive. Coming to the hospice isn’t about dying, it’s about making the most of your life before you die and I really did feel alive today, it was really, really good!

“Even those using oxygen are able to have a go and I just think it’s wonderful. You wouldn’t get the opportunity anywhere else so I’m very thankful.

“It was my first time on a bike and first time on a Harley. My favourite was the one I went on, the blue one. Jim was the driver and he was very good.”

Hayley Kilhams, Staff Nurse for the St Barnabas House Day Hospice, explained that for patients who spend much of their time contending with treatment and their disease, the experience offers a feeling of freedom and liberation.

She said: “If you just walk around a listen to some of the amazing conversations, we have patients who used to ride bikes so it’s a real nostalgia thing for them.

“Even if they don’t like bikes, it’s a brilliant event because it brings life and vitality into the hospice and that’s what we try to do with all our activities.

“Days like these actually do make me quite emotional. I went on one of the bikes last year with the Hogsback and it’s such a feeling of freedom and liberation that you have on the back of these bikes.

“For the patients, it gives them the chance to be part of life again. It’s vital for them to have that balance to their lives and just knowing that they are going to have that experience, it means a lot to all of us.”

Julie Morrison, Day Hospice Activities Co-ordinator, said: “I want to say a huge thank you to the Hogsback Chapter. Judging by the comments and the looks on the faces of the patients, I’m sure they all had a wonderful morning.”

Hugh Lowson, St Barnabas House Chief Executive, said: “We’re hugely grateful to the Hogsback Chapter for coming down and making the day so perfect. The trips make a world of difference for the Day Hospice patients and special memories.”

For more information about the St Barnabas House Day Hospice and the services the hospice provides, please visit: www.stbh.org.uk/dayhospice