CANCER patient Ken Woolley used to be a keen cyclist - and now he is back in the saddle thanks to St Luke’s Hospice.
The retired floorer, aged 78, of Gleadless, Sheffield, has been suffering from cancer since 2006.
“I really enjoyed cycling and was even a member of the Sheffield Cycling Club,” he said.
“I never thought I’d get on a bike again, but the physiotherapy team at St Luke’s showed me how important exercise was and got me onto an exercise bike when I first started to visit the therapies and rehabilitation centre.
“Visiting every week more or less changed my life and my wife Barbara’s life too.
“She couldn’t cope with me as I was and I was struggling too because there were so many different things going on in my life. I’d not got a clue what to do.
“But I absolutely loved the centre and it helped us both to cope with all the things we’ve had to cope with.”
Ken is backing The Star’s appeal to raise £100,000 to help St Luke’s rebuild its 20-bed inpatient unit.
Already, in just three weeks since the appeal was launched, readers have donated an impressive £6,200 to the campaign.
The money, to be raised over the next two years, will go towards the charity’s £5 million scheme to develop a suite of private rooms where patients can spend their final days surrounded by loved ones.
Work is due to start next week on the rebuild, with doors at the refurbished centre in Whirlow to open next year.
Ken said: “St Luke’s is a great place to be and it’s somewhere all the people of Sheffield should be supporting. It is a lot different to what I thought it would be.
“But I think a lot of people get the wrong idea about the hospice and what it’s like.
“People think it’s a place where you come to die - and I have to say it isn’t a bad place to die - but it is about much more than that, it’s about making the most of your life.
“My wife says when I go to St Luke’s I’m the happiest person in the world.
“I have a break and she can have a break too and that’s fantastic.”
Ken has even discovered a previously untapped talent while at the hospice, becoming an enthusiastic maker of silk scarves in the St Luke’s art room.
“I’d made them for my wife and my granddaughter and then I was asked if I could help somebody else who was wanting to have a go,” he said.
“I never thought I’d be the one giving anybody art tips.”