Jane’s life was turned upside down suddenly 18 months ago when her surveyor husband Jim was taken seriously ill at work.
Within half an hour he was in hospital with acute pancreatitis, caused by gallstones. Most cases respond well to treatment but Jim was one of the unlucky ones: he ended up in intensive care as his organs began to fail.
Jane said: “The speed of it all was an incredible shock. Being a small family firm, we worked together, although Jim was the chartered one - his illness meant that was our income pretty much gone, and we had work and financial commitments we could no longer keep.”
Jane found herself on an emotional rollercoaster, trying to keep the business afloat as Jim’s condition changed almost day by day.
She recalled: “He would go from being stable to it being touch and go, on and off life support. They didn’t think he was going to pull through.
“Then he would rally and you would allow yourself a bit of hope. I remember at one point Jim himself said, ‘I don’t think I can keep going on’.”
Eventually the doctors suggested an operation but the couple were warned it was rarely successful. Jim was given just 15% chance of surviving the “last resort” surgery, but told it was really his only chance. Fortunately, he pulled through and, after six months in hospital, finally came home.
Jane says: “Throughout it all, it was such a comfort to have that contact with LionHeart, that voice on the end of the phone whenever I needed it. I knew I could rely on Clare [support officer] when I was really low, I could ask her anything - I could even break down and cry if I wanted.
“Not only was there that emotional support, but the financial support which was so desperately needed at the time.
“I had never considered ringing LionHeart. We donated every year but somehow never related that to what we were going through. Jim had done all of his CPD but not logged it and so I rang the RICS and they suggested I also ring LionHeart.
“At that time I had banks and tax people on my back, and was desperately trying to keep the business going, but not actually knowing if Jim would even pull through. It was like your worst nightmare.
“I can honestly say I would have lost everything - our house, our business - without LionHeart’s intervention.”
Some months on, Jim is now at home and starting to pick up some work again, although his ongoing health issues mean he remains frail and needing care from Jane. She says she doesn’t think he will ever be the same again, but is thankful to have him at home.
She said: “My message to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation is: don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to LionHeart. I was in a desperate financial position, but even if someone has money, it’s knowing there is someone to talk to and be there for you when you don’t know which way to turn.
“I would not have got through any of it without you.”
Jane agreed to share her story. Picture above has been posed by a model