Richmond woman gives gifts to hospital staff in memory of her firefighter dad

A woman has taken gifts to the hospital which helped her father after his cancer diagnosis.

Jemma Ferguson-Gale, from Richmond, lost her dad to cancer in 2020 and for the past two years she has marked his birthday with an act of kindness in his memory.

Jemma, Kerry and Sean’s dad, Paul ‘Fergy’ Ferguson, was a firefighter in Richmond and Harrogate and then an instructor at the International Fire Training Centre in Teesside.

Monday 22nd August 2022 would have been his 62nd birthday.

Jemma marked the day with a visit to the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

She took gifts for the staff to thank the charity for the support her dad received.

Jemma, a senior marketing executive, said: “In the final weeks of his life Macmillan nurses gave dad practical support, he looked forward to their visits, they were the highlight of his day.

“This support gave dad a sense of purpose and focus in his darkest times. The nurses are amazing and the work they do is unbelievable.

“The Macmillan nurses thought of everything, they organised equipment such as an adjustable bed, chair and a stair lift, they came to the house to help give him his medication and to help him with practical things like his finances as well as being available on the phone for any questions or support.

“We have always tried to remain positive. I know dad wouldn’t want us to sit at home and be sad on his birthday, visiting the Macmillan centre this feels like the positive tribute he deserves, a way to give back to people that helped our family when we needed it most.”

Paul died within a couple of months of his cancer diagnosis in 2020 and was never able to access the support of the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre, but Jemma is keen to highlight the work of the facility in Northallerton.

She presented Carol Larkman, Macmillan information centre manager, with sweet treats from Betty’s and a plant for the centre’s quiet room.

Jemma added: “I was blown away by this fabulous facility on our doorstep, it’s reassuring to know that such a world class centre with specialist support is accessible for local people diagnosed with cancer.

“I was thrilled to meet Carol and learn about some of the courses available at the centre, the range of information they provide is incredible, as well as things like advice on financial support which is so desperately needed at the moment.

“I’m very much in awe of the range of support Macmillan provide, I don’t think people realise the half of it.”

Jemma, Kerry and Sean’s mum, Mary Ferguson, also died of breast cancer in 1998. She was a busy working mum of three and aged only 37.

Their dad became a widow in his 30s and suddenly found himself navigating grief and anxiety of loss as well as a demanding job in the emergency services and raising three children.

Jemma said: “The impact of that loss for all of us was profound and life changing but with the support of our Pa and our grandparents and aunties we have been able to live a wonderful life non the less.

“My wish is for everyone living with cancer to have access to the kind of expert personalised support that Macmillan provide.”

People across the region are being urged to support Macmillan’s flagship fundraising event, Macmillan Coffee Morning, taking place on Friday 30 September.

You can sign up to host a Macmillan Coffee Morning, or find a coffee morning near you, at coffee.macmillan.org.uk

To contact the Macmillan team at the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre please call 01609 764033 or email stees.macmillaninfocentre@nhs.net

Anyone diagnosed with cancer can contact the Macmillan Support Line seven days a week on 0808 808 00 00 or visit the Macmillan website (www.macmillan.org.uk)