A grieving husband has paid a touching tribute to his late wife - while also helping patients and families at Horsham Hospital.
Fred Fowler’s dance-loving wife Evelyn, 79, died at the hospital in December after suffering a brain tumour. But instead of flowers at Evelyn’s funeral, Fred asked for donations to help the ward where Evelyn spent her last days.
And on Friday, friends and family gathered at Horsham Hospital’s Horizon Ward to formally present staff with a new fold-up bed so that families can now be close to their loved ones while in hospital and sleep next to them.
In an emotional ceremony, Fred paid tribute to the ward staff for the care they gave Evelyn whom he describes as his ‘rock’ - “nothing was too much trouble,” he said.
Ward matron Dawn Fincham said the fold-up bed was something which staff had wanted “for absolutely ages. Unfortunately in the NHS we don’t have the funds, so this really is an absolute asset to us.”
Fred and Evelyn, who lived at The Hornets, Horsham, were married for 57 years having courted for four years previously. Said Fred: “We had a very happy life and a wonderful social life in the Country and Western scene, also the Square Dancing scene, having danced on cruise ships, also across America, New Zealand, Puerto Rico and, of course, around the UK.”
Fred describes his marriage to Evelyn as “the best thing I’ve done.”
Just a few years into their marriage, Fred developed a serious lung condition and and nearly died three times “but we came through it and it’s all down to the care and love Evelyn gave me through all the difficult times I had health- wise.”
The couple first met when they both worked for a firm in Clapham and spent their first years of married life living with Evelyn’s parents before eventually moving to Horsham.
Evelyn started work in finance, giving up when she became a mum and then worked as a playground supervisor at a school in Rudgwick before doing voluntary work for over 10 years in the Cancer Research shop in Horsham.
Fred himself went into business with his brother before he emigrated to New Zealand in 1972. Fred carried on until his health played up and he went on to work for Paula Rosa Kitchens in Storrington where he stayed for 21 years before retiring.
As well as Fred, Evelyn leaves daughter Tracey, son Lee, four granddaughters, one step granddaughter and one step grandson.
Fred is pictured with ward matron Dawn Fincham and ward sister Lucille Holt, along with family and friends: sister Beryl Squires; Jeryl and Peter Stevenson; Tracey, Lisa and Zoe Townley; Colin Ware; Marlene and Bobby Fisk; and Lee, Jan, Tamzin and Leia Fowler.