A man whose life has been touched by tragedy not once, but twice, has made an emotional plea for people to support a fundraising initiative for the Chester hospice that has helped him and his family.

Scott Graves was just 17 when his mother Barbara died from lung cancer in May 2005 and the young teenager fought to keep him and his 11-year-old sister Aimee together. The two youngsters were supported by staff at the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Backford and the siblings were able to stay together.

Four years later Scott found love in the form of nursing partnership manager Helen Dougherty and the couple were married with his sister and Helen’s daughter Freya as bridesmaids.

The couple went on to have two more children, Harrison and Eleanor, but heartbreakingly Helen was diagnosed with Grade 4 breast cancer in May last year and lost her battle with the disease in January 2016.

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The support that Scott, now a policeman, received from the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Backford on both occasions has led him to support the organisation’s fundraising appeal to double the size of the existing hospice and increase the offer of specialist care and support to local people.

Hospice of the Good Shepherd From Silver to Gold corporate event at the Paddock Club at Chester Races: Scott Graves (second right) with hospice chief executive Steve Hoy, corporate fundraising manager Abi Smith and marketing and communications manager Helen Booth
Scott (second right) with hospice chief executive Steve Hoy, corporate fundraising manager Abi Smith and marketing and communications manager Helen Booth at the Paddock Club at Chester Racecourse

The From Silver to Gold Appeal is now just £350,000 short of its £2.2m target and Scott was a guest at a corporate fundraising event at the new Paddock Club at Chester Racecourse, where he shared his passion for the work the hospice does.

Describing staff as an ‘extended family’ he spoke of the support he had been given as a 17-year-old to help keep his small family together.

He said: “The staff went above and beyond. At one point there was a very real chance that Aimee was about to be taken into care. The hospice stood by our side and supported me as I sorted things out.”

When Helen was diagnosed with cancer and Scott found himself back at the hospice he talked of the family support that staff were able to provide as well as the obvious medical support for his wife.

He said: “Helen was able to go to the hospice for therapies including things like Reiki and massage.

“We had three kids aged from 11 to two and primarily she wanted to be their mum. The hospice offered her a break from reality.”

Scott Graves and Helen Dougherty-Graves with their three children Freya, Harrison, and Eleanor

As Helen’s condition progressed, the hospice not only liaised with the Christie hospital in Manchester where Helen was receiving treatment but also offered Scott and the children family support.

He said: “People don’t realise that the hospice also offers the carer and their family a great deal of support.”

He described senior social worker Lynne Moorhead as ‘just as much a mother to me as my own mother’ and the place as ‘safe when everywhere else felt unsafe’. He described how there were people there he could talk to about how he felt and of the children’s bereavement service which his daughter is still benefiting from.

He said: “People think (a hospice) is where people go to die but it is so much more than that.”

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To help the hospice raise the final £350,000 visit the hospice website.