Hospice patient enjoys RAF tour

Andrew Horton (accompanied by his family) from Willow Trust was treated to a special VIP visit to RAF Coningsby.


 Photo: SAC Jack Welson (RAF)

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Andrew Horton (accompanied by his family) from Willow Trust was treated to a special VIP visit to RAF Coningsby. Photo: SAC Jack Welson (RAF) . EMN-170227-153357001

A young hospice patient has been treated to the ‘best day of his life’ - his childhood dream of a tour of his local RAF fighter base.

Andrew Horton, from Martin, was staggered when he and his family were offered a behind the scenes tour of RAF Coningsby.

Avid aeroplane fan Andrew has been attending St Barnabas Day Therapy Centre in Lincoln for the past 14 months having been diagnosed with end stage renal failure at the age of 22. He will need dialysis indefinitely or until he is strong enough to undergo a kidney transplant. A recently discovered heart condition means surgery has been delayed.

“I am just waiting and hoping that one day my heart will be strong enough to allow me to have the transplant and that I will be able to get some normality back to my life,” he said. “Life on dialysis has had a far greater impact on my life then I ever could have imagined.

“It touches every aspect of your life from preventing you from eating the foods you enjoy to taking part in the sports you once loved. Life becomes about hospital appointments, treatments and medications and your days become long and drawn out. It’s hard to remain positive and I am not ashamed to admit that I was becoming depressed.

“The nurses at St Barnabas understood how I was feeling and they went above and beyond their call of duty to organise a once in a lifetime visit to RAF Coningsby.”

After hearing about Andrew’s love of planes, hospice staff wanted to help him fulfil his ambitions and contacted the Willow Foundation, a national charity working with seriously ill young adults to organise unforgettable special days.

Andrew said the mental boost was better than any medication and a break from hospital.

“It was lovely to have something to look forward to,” he said. “The day was all I could have hoped for and more, and it was lovely to be able to share the experience with my foster dad and brothers.”

They were treated to a tour of the Lancaster Lounge, Battle of Britain Hangar and 29(R) Squadron, and got to ride in the Typhoon flight simulator.

Andrew said: “The absolute highlight has to be the moment I was allowed to sit in a working Lancaster and a Typhoon, it was like a dream come true. The experience was one of the best days of my life and something that my family and I will always cherish.”

Sarah Fitter, Higher Lever Staff Nurse for St Barnabas Hospice, said: “I feel quite humbled to have played a part in helping Andrew and his family to experience this unforgettable day, which has quite clearly had a positive impact on them all.”