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20 Oct

Why mum and daughter are walking the Great Wall of China

We sat in Mick’s room, making up wedding favour boxes –

That’s how homely the Hospice felt to us all


Mick Howell had managed the 16th Century Salisbury Hotel in Hertford with his wife Sharon, for 16 years. It was their home, and when he was given a year to live following the diagnosis of bowel cancer in December 2014, he was adamant he did not want to die in a Hospice.

 Lauren & her dad

Over the coming months Mick had some excellent care from the Lister Hospital but as his condition deteriorated it was clear that his pain levels could not be at home, and Christine, the Isabel Hospice Clinical Nurse Specialist who had been visiting suggested Mick may think about coming into the In-Patient Unit for a medication review.


Sharon explained “Christine had to put up with from some stick from Mick as he as not keen on the idea. With a bit of reverse psychology on my part, Mick eventually agreed to be admitted. Only for pain control though!

When Mick was settled into his Hospice room, overlooking the garden with the sun coming through the window, he turned to me and said “its lovely here Sharon, a lovely place to die”. I told him that wasn’t the plan! Our daughter, Lauren, a mounted police officer, was getting married on 15th May and we both planned to be there.

Mick got extraordinary care. We were able to take Lauren’s dog in to visit, Mick felt the chef was preparing food especially for him, we were able to sit up at 1am in his room, making up wedding favour boxes with doughnuts (its well known that the Police like a doughnut) and one day when I visited, the nurses were bathing him, with the radio on dancing to Bruce Springsteen!


Sadly Mick was not well enough to attend Lauren’s wedding, but Sister Kirsty helped us arrange for him to watch the ceremony from his bed via Facetime. Afterwards we hired a helicopter to take us from there to Welwyn Garden City where we jumped in a taxi and went straight to the Hospice. The staff had lined the corridor and it was a special moment for us all.

 Helicopter arrives in Welwyn Garden City

We wheeled Mick’s bed into the Hospice garden and Mick, dressed in a suit jacket with a flower in his lapel, was able to be in our family photos. He died on 19th May. We were all there; myself, Matthew our son and Lauren. The Hospice was indeed, a lovely place to die and we would like to send our heartfelt thanks to everyone who cared for Mick from beginning to end.

Sharon, Mick's wife and Lauren, his daughter took on the Great Wall of China Challenge this week. You can support them by sponsoring them here.

Lauren Howell, Sawbridgeworth  - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Lauren-Hughes25

Sharon Howell, Hertford - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Sharon-Howell2