Stanley Whitaker was born in 1931. He lived in Prescot his whole life, first with his parents and then, from 1955, with his wife Betty. Stanley and Betty had two children, David and Julie. David has kindly agreed to share his father’s story and his family’s experience of St. Joseph’s Hospice.
The Whitaker family have been supporters of St. Joseph’s Hospice for many years. They have raised money by playing the hospice lottery (which Stanley won twice!), attended many hospice events and bought hospice Christmas cards. David’s wife Anne-Marie also worked at the hospice for 15 years.
David recalls how his father was very well known in his local community, “Dad used to work for a local company called BICC, a cable manufacturer in Prescot. He worked there his entire life, following two years of national service in 1949. He was a sales estimator in the exports division and worked there until he retired at 60 years old.
“Dad was very active for most of his life. He was heavily involved with Prescot Parish Church and did all sorts of things to raise money for the church, helping out in the church shop and collecting furniture from people to raise money. He also played for the local cricket club and was the chair, and lifelong president, of the bowling club.
Sadly, Stanley’s wife, Betty, died at a very young age, at just 52 years old. But David, Anne-Marie and their daughter, Kate, lived close by in Formby and saw him regularly.
“Dad was always in pretty good health and we have a close family. My sister Julie, and her husband Peter, used to visit from their home in Maidenhead and we enjoyed many happy times together.
“After he retired, Stanley met Joyce who he enjoyed spending time with and they became close friends. They used to go to a lunch club together and she became part of the family but, sadly, she passed away about ten years ago.”
When Stanley reached his 80’s, David says his father started to slow down and became a bit more anxious; “Dad was always really sociable but, over the last 8-9 years, he began retreating socially and didn’t want to go out as much. He also became a bit unsteady and started finding it difficult to move around.”
During the last couple of years, through the Covid pandemic, David was caring for Stanley so was able to keep a close eye on him and visited regularly. But, in January this year, David arrived to find Stanley in bed and fairly unresponsive.
“Dad was taken to Whiston Hospital where he spent around three weeks and had lots of tests. They eventually discovered that he had a brain tumour, which came as a complete shock. He had passed all the dementia tests that he had had with his GP and no one had any idea. We didn’t know why he had retreated socially but the doctors said that this explained it.”
Stanley’s tumour was in a very inaccessible place in his brain and, because of his age, the doctors deemed it would not be appropriate to give him any treatment but to make him as comfortable as they could.
David and Anne-Marie wanted to move Stanley to St. Joseph’s Hospice where they could spend more time with him in a comfortable environment, closer to their home.
“Thankfully, dad was lucky and got a hospice bed fairly quickly. We made his room really personal, with his own things around him and lots of family photos. Sadly, dad wasn’t at the hospice very long but it was very familiar and felt more like home. The nurses at the hospice were all very kind and looked after him really well so we could spend some precious time with him.”
Staley died at the hospice on 10th February 2022, aged 90, just two weeks after he was admitted. Around 150 people attended Stanley’s funeral at Prescot Parish Church showing just how popular he was in the local area.
“My dad was a very friendly, outgoing man who got involved in so many things over the years. It was wonderful to see so many people turn up to his funeral and I am so proud that he was able to have the send-off that he deserved, surrounded by everyone who loved him.”
In May 2022, David and his colleagues at SSO Logistics took on the Born Survivor challenge in memory of Stan and raised a fantastic £700 for the hospice.