NHS worker takes on Sky Dive for charity in memory of mum who dedicated her life to the NHS

Helen Kitterringham, aged 51, from Sheffield will be jumping out of a plane at 15,000ft this September to raise money for Sheffield Hospitals Charity and works as a Clinical IT Systems Trainer for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals.

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The decision to take the plunge is in memory of her mum who worked for the NHS and her father – both parents were supported by the NHS in their time of need.

Helen’s mother Gwendoline, originally from Peak Forest, Derbyshire, dedicated all her life to the NHS.

After leaving school Gwendoline immediately decided to pursue her dream of nursing and relocated to undertake her nurse training in Sheffield at the Northern General Hospital. After she qualified, Gwendoline went on to work at the hospital with her final post as a Sister on a Geriatric Ward until she moved into social care. She became Principle at Springwood Care Home and stayed there until her retirement around 20 years later.

Although Helen’s father Albert didn’t work for the NHS, he did access it in his time of need, Helen said:

“My dad had general old age ailments along with type 2 diabetes, and then one evening the worst happened. While both were sat watching the television, mum noticed my dad became quite vacant and was unwell. We immediately called 999 and we both tried to assist him until the paramedics arrived.

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“They managed to maintain his pulse and advised us they had to take him to the emergency department immediately. I think mum simply couldn’t face it, I think with her experience she knew the outcome wasn’t going to be good, so she insisted that I go with him whilst she stayed at home alone.

“I decided to call my best friend to be with her but in mum’s good old style, she sent them to be with us. Honestly, I think she just knew it was the end and I think it was her way of just taking a moment on her own.

“When we arrived at the hospital dad was immediately taken into resus, the team worked so hard to save him but it was just not meant to be, and he passed away before my eyes. I then had the job of going home and telling mum what she probably already knew.

“It truly was an awful evening and I shall never forget the moment I told her, it’s still fresh in my mind now, over 10 years later.”

Helen’s mum also accessed the NHS for her own health issues shortly before Albert’s passing, Helen explained:

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“Whilst dad was still alive, in her seventies mum was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and needed an immediate hysterectomy.

“She didn’t tell my dad it was cancer, as yet again in her way she wanted to protect him from any worry. She had the operation and it was a long recovery but when she got the all clear from the consultant she then shared her diagnosis with dad, and at that point we were able to give him reassurance that she was going to be ok ‘now’.

“Sadly about a year after dad’s passing mum started to experience great pain in her lower back and after a lot of assistance from the GP for pain relief and a couple of emergency admissions to hospital, it was discovered she had developed secondary cancer to her spine.  

“During her second admission the news was broken and palliative care kicked in. On the unit one member of the team Sue, was an old employee of mum’s from Springwood and she knew us all as a family, she had a great respect for mum. In her understanding of mum she was an instrumental part of the support we received as a family.

“The way I talk about that time was – it was one of the worst times in my life but with the help and support given by all the team, I view it now as the best of times, where mum’s passing was so gentle and easy, just as she deserved.”

Helen has also personally accessed a small number of services within the NHS and they have all been successful positive experiences.

She described her thoughts about the NHS: “With my mum’s career and having worked for STH for 30 years myself, the NHS has been a big part of my whole life. In my own personal opinion, the NHS treatment we all received did not fail us when we needed it the most, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

“It’s not an easy thing to put into words, but I fully appreciate what the NHS does for everyone, and I feel I have a responsibility to do the best I can in the role that I’m in.  When I was caring for Mum she did express to me that I would have been good in a nursing role but the service I have given has been in another direction.

“The care that both my parents received was the best of care and this is all any of us would like to see for the ones we hold so close in our hearts. For mum, being a patient wasn’t an easy position to be in but everyone she came into contact with made it so much easier for her than she envisaged it would be.”

Helen will be taking the plunge on the 27th September and aims to raise £500 to support Sheffield Hospitals Charity.

She said: “I’ve seen the information about the charity sky dive before but I’ve never felt brave enough to do it. I’m scared but excited at the same time but hey ho you only live once, so why not get past the fear and just do it!”

If you would like to donate to Helen, you can do so via her Just Giving Page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/helen-kitterringham

Sheffield Hospitals Charity has places for various sky dive dates available. For more information and how you can take the plunge and support local patients visit www.sheffieldhospitalscharity.org.uk/Event/skydive