“Adrian is my friend and someone I very much look forward to seeing each week.”

Marie Curie is delighted to have been chosen as one of six charities to benefit from ITV’s Christmas fundraising appeal, Text Santa. The appeal will help fund the expansion of the Marie Curie Helper Service, which currently operates in ten regions across the UK. With the help of Text Santa donations, we will open six brand new services in 2015. Adrian and Rob's story will be featuring on Friday's programme, here's their story in full.

“The whole experience has been brilliant and I’d encourage everyone to give it a go,” says Rob, a Marie Curie Helper volunteer who visits Adrian once a week. “Adrian is my friend and someone I very much look forward to seeing each week.” 

Adrian was involved in a serious mountaineering accident in his early twenties which left him with severe physical disabilities.  A number of months ago Adrian, now in his early 50s, was diagnosed with advanced cancer. Upon hearing about the Marie Curie Helper service, Adrian indicated that he would enjoy some one-to-one company, and that was when he was paired with Rob.

Giving something back

“My motivation for joining the helper service in 2013 was to give something back to society,” says Rob. “I had taken early retirement three years previous at the age of 53 and felt that I could give a bit of my time to help someone in need. I was not sure if I would be suitable as a volunteer Helper as I did not have any real experience of life in the ‘caring profession’ – I had spent the last 20 years managing a business and my natural persona is someone who has very little patience.” Rob’s regular visits have helped the pair develop a strong friendship, something which has benefitted Adrian greatly. Adrian not only has a regular chess companion, but someone that he looks forward to spending time with.

Staff in the home in which Adrian lives have also noted that he is much happier in himself and much more positive in his outlook on life. Most profoundly, Rob’s visits have given Adrian ‘new memories’ which are allowing him to cope much better with this stage of his illness.

A sense of achievement

The service has not only benefitted Adrian, but has been a hugely positive experience for Rob as well. “I have had to adapt to the role,” says Rob. “I had to make changes to the way things are done and the time it takes to do them, particularly when it involves working with someone with special needs.  It has though given me a sense of achievement in that I feel as if I am providing something that Adrian is able to enjoy and really look forward to. “At the outset I wasn’t sure if what I was doing was really being enjoyed or appreciated by Adrian as he struggles to communicate. 

However, I believe he now trusts me and looks forward to our weekly days out. “I try my best to vary our trips out and so far we’ve been to the Titanic exhibition, regularly attend the monthly Ulster Orchestra recitals, head out shopping or to the local pub for a pint. Adrian is a real ale man!” Read more about Text Santa and how Marie Curie and people like Adrian will benefit.