Janet rides for hospice in memory of husband Chris
Janet Blikmans with husband Chris Durling on a bike ride
A DOWNEND woman is raising money for the hospice which supported her husband through his final days.
Chris Durling was a former Rolls-Royce aero engine design engineer, who died in December of cancer, aged 63.
Before his illness, Chris and his wife Janet Blikmans liked to ride bikes together, both locally and on holidays, and Janet is set to ride a 65km circuit from UWE, over the Severn Bridge and through the Wye Valley as part of June's St Peter's Hospice Tour de Bristol event.
Janet is determined to raise as much as she can to help the charity, which is the area's only adult hospice. It urgently needs support after a £2 million funding shortage due to a year of lockdowns forced it to cut beds and jobs.
Janet said: "St Peter's Hospice supported Chris and myself throughout his illness and in the hospice, in the last two weeks of Chris's life, with the greatest care, respect and dignity.
"It is the most amazing place that needs to keep going to help others in the future."
After working for Rolls-Royce, where he was credited with patents for a number of components he designed, Chris took voluntary redundancy at the age of 57 and turned his talents to renovating houses, having previously built his own home, which Janet described as his "pride and joy".
He was finishing his second renovation project when, after seeing a doctor over persistent back pain, he was diagnosed with non-smokers' small cell lung cancer in December 2019.
Janet said Chris had never smoked a cigarette and was very active, doing circuit training, squash and tennis in addition to cycling.
But the extent of the cancer meant that from the start he was not expected to recover and, despite undergoing four different courses of chemotherapy, the disease spread to his liver and brain.
Janet and Chris got married in July, having been together for 20 years, and were able to hold a garden party afterwards.
St Peter's Hospice had been managing Chris's pain relief and giving advice, support and counselling to him and to Janet before he was given a bed there, two weeks before he died in December last year.
Janet said: "All the staff were so amazing to try to make the end of his life as comfortable as possible.
"It is a very caring place. The doctors sit with you and talk things through and, as a family member, you are part of that."
Coronavirus restrictions mean Janet has been unable to hold a proper memorial for Chris, inviting the many people who knew him, so she now plans to hold one after restrictions are eased on June 21, the week before the cycle ride she has been training hard for.
So far she has raised more than £1,400, having set a target of £250, and says she has been "totally overwhelmed" by the support of people who either knew Chris or responded to shared posts about the bike ride.
You can support St Peter's hospice via Janet's fundraising page at justgiving.com/fundraising/janetblikmans.