An Ashgate Hospicecare ambassador says he’s proud to be part of the hospice’s “inclusive” family – as the charity gets set to support the LGBTQ+ community at Chesterfield Pride this weekend.
Colin Boynton and his husband of 30 years, Frank Matheson, who died from cancer four years ago, were “soul mates” and his sudden death in 2017 hit Colin incredibly hard.
It proved particularly difficult for Colin after doctors had given Frank a life expectancy of up to five years just weeks before. Colin had also recently lost two close friends and his brother, David, at just 53.
But following Frank’s death, Colin was “unexpectedly” offered support by Ashgate and went on to attend a bereavement group as well as drama therapy sessions.
Colin, from Buxton, says Ashgate welcomed him with open arms, which was particularly important to him having faced discrimination from healthcare providers in the past.
The “incredible” counselling and therapy he received helped Colin through the trauma; eventually inspiring him to join Ashgate as a hospice ambassador and raise awareness of the care and support that Ashgate can offer to the LGBTQ+ community.
He’s now proud to be part of Ashgate Hospicecare – an organisation he describes as “inclusive and open”, that treats everyone with “fairness and respect”.
“Right from the very first contact with Ashgate, we never had any problem with the fact I was in a same sex couple,” said Colin.
“I was treated with the same respect as anybody else would be treated, probably more so as everyone seemed to understand that like most same sex couples, we had no family to give us that important extra support that others have.
“After Frank’s death, I went into a spiral of suffering from anxiety, depression and having suicidal thoughts. That’s when Ashgate’s support mattered the most; they helped me get back on my feet again following what was a very difficult time.”
Colin added: “The team offering me bereavement support were incredibly kind and compassionate. I remember on my first couple of visits, I had to leave the room a couple of times as I found it emotionally overwhelming, and I sat outside in tears.
“It was so heart-warming when staff on reception and the Inpatient Unit stopped to see if I was okay and if I needed anything – I could not have been cared for or looked after better than that – and nobody back then even knew who I was!”
Colin and Frank got married six years ago, having previously celebrated a civil ceremony in in 2006 as marriage for same sex couples wasn’t legalised in the UK until 2013.
Frank, who was 85 when he died, will be remembered as a “charming and loving” man, who was always there for Colin and those around him.
Colin added: “My life collapsed around me when the nurses told me Frank had died; my soul mate was gone.
“We had shared so much together – many laughs and tears, travelled to places I had only dreamed of visiting. Our life was just being together and sharing everything together. As someone said on our wedding day: “We never think of one without the other, it is either Frank and Colin or Colin and Frank – they are inseparable!”
“I know Frank is extremely proud of me and continues to give me strength and support even though he cannot be with me in body but in spirit.”
Colin plans to take part in Ashgate’s Sparkle Night Walk next month – two days after the anniversary of Frank’s death.
Meanwhile, Ashgate will be attending Chesterfield Pride this Sunday (22nd August) to raise awareness about how its care and job opportunities are there for everyone in North Derbyshire – and how it is working hard to make sure everyone feels welcomed and supported.
Ashgate Hospicecare can provide bereavement support and advice to anyone struggling after the death of a loved one. Email the Supportive Care team at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information go to www.ashgatehospicecare.org.uk.
Alternatively, call 01246 568801 and ask to speak to a member of the Supportive Care team.