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Aaron’s Story: Making music and running marathons for Weldmar, who ‘provided so much more than end of life care’ for family friend Andy

16th February 2024

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Fundraising News Personal Stories

Read Aaron’s Story

This is Aaron’s story and how he’s raising money for Weldmar.

In April 2024, Aaron Perrott will be taking on his first London Marathon, proudly wearing the blue and green vest of Weldmar Hospicecare. He’ll be running the world famous 26.2 mile event in memory of his friend Andy Mitchell, who was cared for by Weldmar Hospicecare for a number of weeks in 2015, and has boosted his fundraising by donating the streaming proceeds of the latest album released by the band he is a member of, alongside Andy’s twin sons Steve and Paul.

We’ve been speaking to Aaron to find out more about the marathon, why he’s so passionate about continuing to support Weldmar, and about his rather unique form of fundraising.

Let’s start with Andy. How was he – and his loved ones – cared for by Weldmar?

Andy was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had various treatments, but it got to the stage where they couldn’t do anymore so Weldmar were called in. He was seen regularly by a Weldmar Community Nurse at home, but it became increasingly difficult for his wife, Rita, to care for him at home, and he was admitted to the hospice for end of life care, just to try to make him more comfortable when things got worse.

The nature of his illness meant that when I came to visit he could either be like his old self, or he could be forgetting things and it could be quite difficult to have a conversation. But the staff were just so patient, they looked after him really well. When I came to visit they would always say what Andy had been talking about. They clearly took the time to listen to someone who was ultimately a patient, but treated them as someone they wanted to get to know, so they could provide better treatment and that was really nice. It was also reassuring and comforting for Rita and for us to hear those stories about what he’d been talking about.

Weldmar Hospicecare

I used to travel down from London and when I got there Andy might not be up for talking, but they always found a space for me in the Orangery, and I could do a bit of work and they would come and get me when he was feeling better. I could spend a couple of hours with him, and Steve and Paul. They always made time for us and for Rita, and just gave great care in what were difficult circumstances and challenging times.

It was the little things they did for him too. I went to visit one day and he was watching the tennis on TV. He said that he’d been speaking with the nurses about tennis the day before, and whilst he was asleep they wheeled in a television for him and put the tennis on for when he woke up. It just showed that they listened to Andy, and it seems like a small thing but it was so important. I could see in his face how happy that made him. He always used to like his tea very strong, and they always made it exactly how he liked it. It just shows the level of thought into making someone’s end of life as good as it can be.

It must be so difficult to do, as you’re dealing with different patients with different illnesses and needs, so to be able to offer that individualised level of care must be so difficult to do. And to stay positive all the time! It just made a difference.

Everyone always went that bit further than just providing end of life care for someone in a bed. It was much more than that. All the staff were brilliant. Andy would mention that as well, he was always full of praise for them.

I remember one day when Andy was quite good in the morning, but not quite so good in the afternoon so I went to the Orangery and was getting a little bit upset. One of the nurses came to see me with tea and biscuit, and asked how I was. She told me that Andy had been talking about us that week, and about our music, which was so nice to hear.

When he passed away, we all said that we would raise money because Andy’s care had been above and beyond.

Running the London Marathon Aaron's Story

How is the marathon training going?

It’s scary, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’m trying to make sure I do enough training and sticking to the plan, and have been slowly upping the distances. I’ve been a spectator a couple of times to support my wife, so it’ll be good to be on the other side with the crowd cheering, and looking out for the Weldmar support stations! I’d really like to do it in five hours – if I get close to that, I’ll be happy.

Tell us a bit more about how your band have helped raise money.

I’ve always been in bands, mostly with two of my best friends, Steve and Paul. When we were growing up I would be round their house more often than my own, playing football or making music. We had a room upstairs where we would practice, and Andy was always enthusiastic and supportive about our music. Steve and Paul play part time in the band I’m in now, Mock The Wasp. We’re based in London and don’t perform very often, but have raised money for Weldmar at a couple of gigs in the past. We had recorded a new album and were chatting about releasing it, and said it would be good to support Weldmar and tie it into the marathon fundraising. We decided to donate the money from the launch, plus streams up to the date of the marathon.

 

 

mock the wasp band Aaron's Story

We’re only a small band with a niche following, but when we do gigs the people who know us will come and see us, and we raised £300 at the album launch. I really enjoy writing and performing music. It was never going to be a career option, but it’s always been good fun to do!

We thought whilst I’m doing the running, this was a really good opportunity for the three of us to do something together, and all contribute to. We all played on the album, and Paul wrote some of the songs with me too. My daughter Molly got involved too, playing guitar and co-writing a track, so it was all quite special.

As well as raising money, it was also a really good way to remember Andy. I still miss him, and being able to call him and ask for advice on something.

How has the support been for you as a Weldmar fundraiser?

It’s been really good. Eden from the fundraising team is regularly in touch to see how we’re doing, and if we need any help. I was sent a pack with advice on making the most of fundraising, and there’s a Facebook group for the Weldmar runners, so it’s useful to see what everyone else is up to, and it encourages you to carry on a little bit more. We’ve got our vests so we can get out and train in them in plenty of time!

Why is it important for you to continue supporting Weldmar?

If it’s doing the running, or the gigs, or in this case the streaming, it’s good to be able to give something back. You read about how difficult it is to raise money or get funding, so it’s nice to do something that Andy would have been proud of, and we try to do something once a year for Weldmar.

Andy was one of those people who said if you enjoyed something, you should do it. Even if you weren’t very good, don’t worry about it! I used to like inline skating, and so I did the Berlin Skate Marathon! Even with all the training I did, I was rubbish, and I fell over a number of times, but it didn’t matter. I enjoyed it, it was nice to do something different and raised some money! And if you do something quirky, people might be more inclined to sponsor you.

“To think that there are so many people in Dorset getting the same level of care, every day of every week, from Weldmar, is really important. I knew Andy, but every day there’s another Andy there who deserves the best care at the end of their life. You want to know that’s how people are cared for.”

Aaron's Story mock the wasp welcome the hive lounge

Stream ‘Welcome to the Hive Lounge’ by Mock The Wasp now, and help raise more money for Weldmar Hospicecare!

Stream on Spotify Stream on iTunes Stream on Amazon Music

Thank you to Aaron for sharing his story, and for his continued support of Weldmar Hospicecare, along with Steve and Paul and Mock The Wasp.

Thank you for reading Andy’s story.

If you would like to share your Weldmar story, to help people in Dorset understand the difference that our care makes, please contact james.oneill@weld-hospice.org.uk.

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