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About Anne Robson

Anne Robson

The Trust was set up by Liz Pryor following the unexpected death of her mother, Anne Robson, and the impact it had on her family. This is Anne’s story.

Wooden decorative heartAnne was a gentle, elegant lady who was enjoying a quiet but full retirement, even though her husband’s death in 1989 meant her later years weren’t what she’d planned.

She had moved closer to her daughter and grandchildren in Suffolk and was enjoying village life, taking an active role in church and volunteering at the local primary school where she helped the children with their reading.

A series of falls marked the end of her ability to live independently and she moved to a care home. However, in January 2010 the family received a call to tell them Anne had fallen again and been taken to hospital.

Anne spent a week in hospital. During this time, her family learned in the most painful way imaginable about the challenges faced by the NHS in caring for elderly people – and the impact this can have on patients and their loved ones. helpline operator For many hospital patients at the end of life, having no family or friends to come and visit them increases their stress, isolation and loneliness. That shouldn’t have been the case for Anne – her family were close by and desperate to see her. But just as the coronavirus pandemic has kept so many families apart from their relatives as they die, in 2010 Anne’s hospital was dealing with an outbreak of norovirus and refused to allow her family to see her. The details of that week, in which an overstretched NHS staff failed to deliver the care Anne needed or communicate sufficiently with her family, are documented in a report by the Patients Association. Anne died a few hours after she was discharged from hospital, on January 24th 2010.

If we can make a difference to even a few people facing the end of life – and help them to get as close as possible to a ‘good’ death – it makes it all worthwhile.

Liz Pryor

As they worked with the hospital to try to understand what had gone wrong, Anne’s family not only realised how up against it the NHS is, every day and in every hospital.

They also began to understand that deaths can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and the huge difference this can make, both to the person whose life is ending and to those left behind.

Wooden decorative heartSome deaths cannot be prepared for. But many can. With the right support, a few weeks or even days can be enough time for us to start accepting that a life is coming to an end.

We all want to be confident that, when our time comes, the right support will be there. And there’s growing recognition of the role that volunteers can play in bringing companionship to patients at the end of life, supporting the work of the NHS.

Anne herself had recognised this need to support the professionals when she volunteered to help the schoolchildren with their reading.

Now Anne’s daughter Liz recognised it again.

Today, Liz Pryor is the Founder and Director of the Anne Robson Trust. She and her colleagues work to inspire, train and support volunteers so that they in turn can support people facing death. Through their work, the Trust hopes to prevent families from going through what Anne and her family experienced.

As Liz says, “If we can make a difference to even a few people facing the end of life – and help them to get as close as possible to a ‘good’ death – it makes it all worthwhile.”

Anne’s story and photographs have been provided with kind permission of her family
 – Liz Pryor, Sally Thornton, David Robson, Catherine Goodin and Andrew Robson.

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