“He would have been thrilled to know that it was his money that brought it to the target," says Daisy Lawrence, 85 - the mother of Geoff Lawrence, who in his will donated £150k to Brighter Futures' Radiotherapy Appeal.
Geoff Lawrence was just 47 when he passed away in 2016 after his battle with brain cancer. He worked as a nurse at Swindon's Great Western Hospital, and thanks to his last compassionate effort, Brighter Futures surpassed their £2.9m target for a radiotherapy unit at GWH.
After being diagnosed with a tumour in 2014 Geoff, like many other patients, had to make the journey to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for treatment. "I was driving him to Oxford for about six months, because it wasn’t until March 2015 that they operated to take the tumour out," Daisy tells me.
"But they cancelled the operation three times before they eventually operated. I’ve got a little something against the NHS – why did they keep him waiting six months?
"I think if they had operated two, or three, months earlier he might have had more time. I think he was always going to die, but we might have had longer.
"Anyway, we still had two years with him, so I’m pleased about that. I look on it as lucky - we were lucky to have those two years, whereas some people lose someone all of a sudden and you haven’t got the time."
Despite Daisy's grievances she looks back on Geoff's life with fond and proud memories. She says: "The six months after he died he left us laughing, because everybody had a funny story to tell.
"He was very naughty - he used to say to me, ‘There’s all kinds of childhood trauma and mine is you making me listen to your old music!’"
Geoff himself was known locally as a multi-talented singer-songwriter and musician performing often in his band S'Go in which he played the piano, mandolin, and musical saw. Daisy remains an avid fan of her son's music, particularly Geoff's cover of Don McLean's 'Vincent' which he performed for her on her 80th birthday. But she admits she was not a fan of all his musical ventures and recalls when Geoff started learning to play the saw.
"You know when someone first starts practicing the violin, and it’s all squeaky and horrible? That’s what it was first sounding like – horrible!
"But by the third week he was actually getting a nicer sound out of it. Eventually it made a beautiful sound. Most of us in life want to learn an instrument, and he learned to play different instruments. He seemed to try different things."
Another string to his bow was that Geoff also learned sign language. "He wasn’t deaf, but he went to a club to have a drink with members of the deaf community.
"While he was ill in hospital three deaf ladies from the group came to visit him – he was really ill by then and couldn’t sign back, but somehow they were seeming to communicate with him as one lady was signing to the other two what was going on between them."
Describing his character Daisy says: "He greeted everyone with a hug, and he had a big smile, – like an advert for toothpaste. He seemed to be one of those people who was there when people needed someone." Before becoming a nurse Geoff previously worked as a Samaritan in his early 20s, and prior to that cared for people through agency work, - cancer patients and people living with dementia – and also had a job in a respite home for children with disabilities. This came as second nature according to Daisy as his older sister, Lynda, was "profoundly handicapped" and suffered from severe epilepsy.
Due to complications with her medication, Lynda’s organs shut down and she passed away in 2007, aged 39. Daisy says: "He was always so good with her. It was only years later that I realised that he did miss out on certain things because all my time was given to Lynda, – she needed it, she was just like a baby – but when he was older, he said to me ‘I understand’.
In his final act to put others before himself, Geoff donated the money he received from selling his house in Rodbourne to Brighter Futures' Radiotherapy Appeal. GWH is aiming to be able to provide patients with radiotherapy treatment by 2021.
For further information visit www.swindonlink.com/7770/brighter-future-for-swindon-as-radiotherapy-appeal-celebrates-£2.9m-target/