Marilyn Beddow with grandsons Max (centre) and Harrison

Grandmother’s Africa-related party for little grandson

Marilyn Beddow and her family watched The Lion King

Marilyn Beddow always dreamt of taking her grandchildren on safari to Africa.

Having fallen in love with the giant continent during previous trips, she wanted to take seven-year-old Max and Harrison, four, with her to experience Africa’s wild beauty and the hospitality of its people.

But after being diagnosed with terminal cancer she had to re-think the idea, instead planning to take her family to the West End production of The Lion King.

Sadly, Marilyn became too ill to travel to London from her home in Hereford, leading to staff at St Michael’s Hospice, where she has been spending time on respite, to suggest a special screening of the animated Lion King movie, organised in partnership with Hope at St Michael’s, to coincide with Harrison’s fourth birthday.

‘It was such a lovely idea and a great afternoon. My family had travelled up from London and they all really enjoyed it,’ said Marilyn.

Max and Harrison enjoyed popcorn and ice cream while settling down to watch the hit Disney film at the Hospice in Bartestree.

‘It had always been my dream to take my grandsons and the rest of my family to Africa on safari – to see the sights and meet the people,’ added Marilyn.

‘I’ve been to Africa a few times. I just love it.

‘There’s always been a part of me there.

‘My first time was a trip from Ethiopia to South Africa on a converted Hovis truck, ending in Cape Town.

‘I enjoyed it so much.’

Sadly, her plans for the family Africa trip and West End visit weren’t realised, but she says she’s so grateful to Hope at St Michael’s – which provides a children and young people’s support service at the Hospice – for making Saturday’s film showing possible.

During Marilyn’s period of respite care at St Michael’s she penned a book for her grandsons, and turned her hand at other activities including art therapy and poetry.

‘The book is about the adventures of a rabbit and his experience of a hospice,’ she said.

‘I’ve written it for my grandsons to read later and I hope it will help them understand that hospices are not sad places. I didn’t want it to have a sad ending.

‘Being at St Michael’s has helped me find a great deal of tranquillity.

‘As soon as I arrived the feeling of dread went and all the worry left me.

‘It’s completely changed the way I see a hospice.’