BRIAN Ratcliffe has experienced the care and support offered by Longfield Hospice more than most.

After losing his wife, his partner, his daughter and his unborn grandson, Brian says the Minchinhampton based centre helped him navigate through the very worst times in his life.

From hands-on nursing care to a listening ear, the support over the years has made him feel that little bit less alone.

“When you lose someone, one minute your life can be in order and then suddenly, everything changes," said Brian.

"You then have to find a way to pick up the pieces which can be very lonely.

“Longfield offers people a sense of community, where you feel comfortable and supported."

That is why, during Hospice Care Week (which runs until October 13) he is urging people to leave a gift in their will to enable Longfield to help thousands of other families in the future.

When his wife of 30 years, Jan, died of breast cancer in 2000, he found the strength to cope through Longfield’s one to one and group counselling sessions.

It was there Brian, from Amberley, met Sue Yates, who had lost her husband the same year.

The pair later fell in love and were together for 15 years with Sue becoming a passionate volunteer for the Minchinhampton-based hospice over the years.

“When Sue fell ill with lung cancer, Longfield was there to support us with the hospice at home service,” Brian, 74, said.

“Their help meant she was able to be at home and spend vital time with her family and her friends to say goodbye.

"After she died, I wanted to give something back to Longfield, so I became a volunteer driver and I am now a trustee.

“I now go along to the walk and talk sessions to help others who have been bereaved.

"It helps to chat to someone who has been through a similar experience.”

In 2014, Brian also lost his daughter Emily and her baby son Ben who had to be delivered at 26 weeks when she suffered an aneurysm.

He said Longfield has been an invaluable support to himself and so many other people over the years.

“We will all be affected by loss in one way or another and Longfield is there for everyone whether you are a patient, carer or a loved one,” he said.

“Please do what you can to support its work.”

Longfield legacy development officer Michelle Thompson said: "At Longfield, we believe everyone touched by a life-limiting illness should benefit from free hospice care.

"We rely on the generosity of the public to fund 85 per cent of our work, from hospice at home to day therapy services and counselling.

"By leaving a gift in your will, you can help us ensure we can reach more people in the future across the Stroud district and Gloucestershire.

“The need for our help in Gloucestershire continues to grow but sadly, the amount we receive as gifts in wills has reduced, which has a direct impact on the services we want to provide.

“Whether you leave us a percentage of your estate or a cash sum, however large or small, every gift means so much to us.”

To find out about how to leave a gift in a will to Longfield, visit: longfield.org.uk/leave-a-gift-in-your-will