Geoff and Mary Yeomans were a husband and wife team who have supported Derian House from the very beginnings of the hospice.
Mary sadly passed away in December last year.
Geoff, now 86, returned to Derian House as a volunteer in 2023, making him the charity’s longest-running supporter at 35 years.
“Mary and I were a husband and wife team, if you will.” Said Geoff. “I lost Mary last year and it’s still a big hole in my life.
“I first heard about Derian House through Mary. We both attended the first meeting in 1991 which transpired that the group was hoping to build a hospice. They called it Derian – a combination of Derek and Ian.
“I have a medical background from my time in the National Service, and then later in education, and Mary was a teacher of young children – so we both had interests in the purpose of the hospice.
“Mary had cancer several times during her life, which I think made what the hospice does somewhat more meaningful.” Said Geoff.
“Our roles were to go out and talk to people about Derian House and to publicise the charity. Back in those days it was the only way to raise the money. We were both in full-time work at the time so we couldn’t get involved fully but we did what we could.
“Mary used to get very involved in going out and talking to schools because she knew how to talk to young children, and I spoke to the older age groups. That went on for quite a long time. Then we found out that Mary had cancer. That started a series then of Mary getting cancers.
“It was when I took early retirement that we started coming to Derian House.” Said Geoff, “Mary also had to give up teaching at the time due to the cancer affecting her work.
“When we volunteered in the hospice, we just fitted right in. We started in the refectory area – now known as Danni’s Diner. I was doing all the washing up and Mary was tidying up after the meals.
“We got involved in all sorts of things. I think we’ve been to most gala days and fetes, either helping out or just attending. We always enjoyed Lights of Love, because we joined the choir. We both are choir singers. Mary was a great pianist as well – and an organ player. We came to a point where we decided that we would support Derian House as long as we were able.
“Derian House has grown and changed over the years, but the care that the hospice provides for families has always been incredible.
“There were a few times that we had to take a step back from volunteering for a while.” Said Geoff, “In 2013 I got cancer and I had to isolate myself during that time. Mary also found out she had cancer again in 2017.
“That didn’t stop us though. We returned to Derian House as volunteers, but this time we supported the fundraising team. So, Mary counted the money and I did the re-labelling of the collection boxes. We were a real team.
“Sadly I lost Mary last year,” Said Geoff, “I came back to Derian House to volunteer again – I still help out the fundraising team and re-label the collection boxes. And I know that if Mary was still here with me, we’d be sat there together. Her counting the money and me relabelling the collection boxes. A real husband and wife team.”