Jim Stickings is a talented carpenter, who used his skills to design and create a unique clock entirely out of wood. He sold the clock at auction for £850 and has donated the money to Saint Francis Hospice. Here Jim shares why he wanted to help the charity after it cared for his wife Hilda.
Making clocks became a hobby after I retired from teaching carpentry, joinery and building crafts at Thurrock Technical College.
It was a real challenge to make a clock entirely out of wood, taking several years to perfect but I really enjoyed it.
So far, I have made four clocks – three of which I have given away to friends and my first and favourite clock I auctioned so I could help the hospice.
My daughter and I were extremely pleased with the way everyone at Saint Francis Hospice looked after Hilda in her final days and she very much appreciated the care and compassion she received.
Hilda was my childhood sweetheart and we had been married for 57 years.
In January 2019, Hilda was given just three months to live. A scan to find the cause of back pain revealed that she had bowel cancer, which had already spread to her liver and lungs.
I’d known Hilda since she was 15. The consultant told her that there’s nothing they could do. I expected her to break down, but she didn’t. We just sat there holding hands.
Shortly after, a nurse at Basildon Hospital asked Hilda where she wanted to die and I was taken back.
Crikey! What a question to ask someone. But without drawing a breath, Hilda replied: ‘In a Hospice, please.’ We had to fulfil her wish.
Hilda didn’t want to be a burden on her family. She had seen her mother die at home after a cancer diagnosis and she knew how difficult it would be for me and our daughter Jo.
When Saint Francis Hospice’s Hospice at Home nurses arrived at our home, they gave us a lifeline.
Her condition was changing daily, but they were always there to answer questions and were ever so knowledgeable.
As Hilda entered the final four weeks of her life, she went to stay on the ward and Jo and I would stay overnight with Hilda in the family room.
We both held her hand and said ‘goodbye’ and ‘God bless’ as she took her final breath.
The Hospice was a beautiful place and the care was magnificent — from the medical staff to all the ancillary teams — everyone was so wonderful.