Olly, the founder of Kingsway Care, prepared a moving eulogy for friends, colleagues, and family gathered to celebrate Tilly’s life. We don’t know why she died so young but she is sorely missed and her positive influence continues to impact Kingsway Care. We’d like to share his memories of this remarkable young woman.
I’ve only known Tilly for two years but we spent nearly every day together, literally seven days a week, launching Kingsway Care.
Kingsway Care supports disabled and elderly adults to remain independent at home. This was something that Tilly felt passionate about. Tilly was a founding Director and I am honoured to have this opportunity to reflect on that time.
I would like to start by saying that Tilly had such an incredible set of unique abilities – that allowed her to always make such a HUGE impact. Everyone here knows that Tilly was naturally caring, gentle, warm, sympathetic, selfless, and big hearted. As far as I am concerned, she was the kindest person I have ever known.
As an example, Tilly was instrumental in organising and hosting a magical Christmas Day last year for Clients and CareGivers. I will also treasure the various beautiful, thoughtful thank you cards and notes, with her immaculate handwriting. I know that others on our team feel exactly the same. Kingsway Care Clients Martin and Katy, have also asked me to acknowledge how special she made them feel.
However, she was also incredibly bright, effective, practical, competent, reliable, hardworking, and with incredible attention to detail. She was an organisational guru with a love of huge complex Excel spreadsheets that would have sent anyone else into an absolute meltdown. Earlier this year, we were inspected by the Care Quality Commission for the first time. I am lucky enough to work with a very talented team, but we all acknowledge that we would have never received such a positive inspection report without Tilly.
Tilly was a fixer, a problem solver. I particularly remember one phone call, late at night, where one of the CareGivers had lost the key to her bike lock – and needed to cycle onto another Client. Without a moment to spare, Tilly whizzed off in the car and decided that they would lift her bike up and over the top of a very high street sign – making use of her famous hockey stick – releasing the bike and enabling the CareGiver to cycle onto the next visit. Tilly had saved the day, yet again!
But, as yet another example of Tilly’s thoughtful nature, she presented me with a diary of “Kingsway Care’s first year”. It captured every pivotal moment & memory and must have taken a huge amount of time to complete. Here is a little exert, from Tilly’s point of view, about her initiation into the care sector that I absolutely love:
“So the caring begins! I am seeing body parts in ways I hadn’t comprehended, applying lotions and creams to areas that I certainly hadn’t done before. I vividly recall each visit as if you had entered into a world of “survivor”, being given obscure clues on how you actually locate the next client. “Walk to the end of the road, go down the third alleyway with a grey recycle bin if it’s blue you have gone too far, behind the second bush you will find a key safe’. Twigs in hair and torch at the ready in the pouring rain trying to open key safes. What’s a key safe? Of course, we’re pros now. Back then you needed three hands for that. Now just one is a breeze.”
Setting up Kingsway Care was such a steep learning curve for all of us, but Tilly was always so positive, optimistic, and happy about her work. She always wanted to make a difference in the lives of others. She was at the absolute core of our organisation – every system, every process, every decision. Various beautiful photos of her with Clients are on display in our office. She is still the voice of our Kingsway Care phone system. Every office colleague has a personalised yellow mug with their name on and the “Tilly mug” now takes pride of place next to industry awards that she was super proud to win. Our team finds some comfort in the knowledge that her legacy lives on, in the spirit of Kingsway Care.
But external people and organisations were also moved by our amazing incredible Tilly. One perfect example is “Sentai”, an innovative and award-winning British IT company. They have developed a home safety support system and Tilly was instrumental in forming a partnership with them. The idea is that, in the absence of family, friends, or care providers like us, their Sentai device can prompt for medication, encourage eating & drinking at key times, read audio books, engage in interactive quizzes and games, tell jokes and importantly alert care providers or next of kin if usual routines are not followed. The system has different characters, with different voices – and they announced that they were renaming one of the characters “Tilly” so that she will go on helping people. This just goes to show Tilly’s impact on others, even in a short time.
Rest in Peace
I have no idea why her life had to end at such a young age. Tilly was an incredibly special person and what has happened is so unfair. Thank you, Tilly, for being my friend. You will never ever be forgotten or erased from Kingsway Care’s story.