A debt lov­ingly re­paid

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - SAM KILMISTER

As Daphne Sowerby watched her hus­band lose a painful fight with can­cer, it ig­nited a de­sire to re­pay the hos­pice that made his few re­main­ing months bear­able.

More than 25 years and $100,000 later, she’s squared the debt.

Sowerby, 87, from Feild­ing, had known Al­bert since she was 9. He died in 1991, six months af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with in­op­er­a­ble throat and lung can­cer, prompt­ing her to knit, craft and bake her grief away.

She watched on as her typ­i­cally ac­tive and an­i­mated best friend be­came bedrid­den, and suf­fered the gru­elling ef­fects of an in­cur­able dis­ease. Sowerby had reser­va­tions about send­ing Al­bert to Palmer­ston North’s Aro­hanui Hos­pice, which was still be­ing built as he was ad­mit­ted.

‘‘We didn’t know too much about hos­pices back then,’’ she said. ‘‘We thought it was where peo­ple go to die, but it’s so much more than that.’’

She quickly be­came part of the Aro­hanui Hos­pice fam­ily.

‘‘They treated the fam­ily just as they treated the pa­tient, as if you were in dis­tress. I thought that was just won­der­ful.’’

Her hus­band’s death hit Sowerby hard. She didn’t know what she was go­ing to do, and some days it felt like life was fall­ing apart.

As she dusted off the sew­ing ma­chine, Sowerby chal­lenged her­self to, sweater by sweater, work her way to six-fig­ures.

In her first year she raised $200. ‘‘That gave us some en­cour­ag­ment.’’ She made $400 the next year. As the years went on it be­came a full­time oc­cu­pa­tion. She knit­ted sweaters, bean­ies and boots. She made jam, baked cakes and even grew plants to sell.

‘‘It’s amaz­ing how much money you can make with stuff like this.

‘‘If I could have my life over again I’d do it all the same.‘‘

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/STUFF

Daphne Sowerby raised $100,000 for Aro­hanui Hos­pice af­ter los­ing her hus­band.

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