A MOTHER has marked what would have been her first wedding anniversary on Tuesday by paying for a day of care at a hospice in memory of her late husband.

Emma Stanger, 28 of Shotton Colliery, County Durham, said she wanted to do something special to honour her husband Mark and to also say thanks for the care that he received at St Cuthbert's Hospice, in Durham.

She said: “If it wasn’t for the help and support of St Cuthbert’s Hospice we wouldn’t have been able to get married at all or to make so many precious memories before he died.

"Mark and I had known each other pretty much all of our lives. A year before we got together he told me he would marry me one day.

"I couldn’t be more grateful to the hospice for making this a reality. Without their support in getting Mark’s symptoms under control we simply couldn’t have done it. He didn’t think he would make it to the wedding day.’”

The Northern Echo: Emma and Mark Stanger on their wedding day with son Leighton and daughter JessieEmma and Mark Stanger on their wedding day with son Leighton and daughter Jessie

Mark, 32, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2019. He had experienced symptoms for up to six month, prior but unfortunately had been misdiagnosed during this time.

It was only after paying privately to have a scan completed that doctors were able to find a large tumour and refer him for treatment. Mark was later told that treatment was not an option and there was nothing more that could be done.

Emma said: “Being referred to the hospice was the best thing to happen. People think of a hospice as this big black scary and sad building that you go into and never come out of but for us that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

"The hospice is such a bright and welcoming place. As soon as we walked through the door we were all looked after so well. We were able to come and go. Mark would be able to come here and get his pain under control and then go out on his motorbike or quad later that day if he wanted to.”

The Northern Echo: Mark Stanger with son Leighton and daughter JessieMark Stanger with son Leighton and daughter Jessie

Hospice staff worked closely with the district nurses and Marie Curie teams to ensure that Mark’s pain was managed whether he was at home or at the hospice.

Emma added: “When he did stay overnight at the hospice it was more like a hotel or having your own apartment. We were in and out of the hospice from February to August.

"The first day we came was actually the day after I bought my wedding dress. In the summer time at the hospice he loved to sit out in the gardens, watch all the wildlife and catch a bit of a tan. It was such a comfort to know he could come here and he’d be so well looked after.”

The Northern Echo: Emma and Mark Stanger on their wedding dayEmma and Mark Stanger on their wedding day

”The amazing care was also there for our children, Layton, nine, and Jessie, four. Mark was so family orientated and everything he ever did was for the kids. Knowing that they were being looked after too was so important.”

“The kids love it at the hospice. Jessie would bring her swimming costume to go in the big bath with her Dad. She loved to look for fairies in the gardens too. As Layton is a little bit older he was able to access the children’s bereavement support. He’s really enjoyed coming and the counsellors use games and crafts to help him process things.”

“It’s because of all of this care and support that I wanted to pay for what would have been our first wedding anniversary. It’s a way of saying thanks. Mark adored the nurses. In the winter he even went out and scraped the snow from their cars for them. He thought so highly of the medical expertise in the team too. They knew exactly what was right for him and helped us to make so many precious memories.”

A day of clinical care at St Cuthbert’s Hospice costs £2,300 and the hospice must raise in excess of £2 million each year to be able to continue providing their services free of charge. For more information visit visit www.stcuthbertshospice.com