Nicola Combe is raising funds for CancerCare after a career change inspired by wanting to help others who are also dealing with family tragedy.
Nicola set up her new business Morecambe Bay Wills & Estates after her husband Jim died, aged 60, two years ago.
She was so grateful for CancerCare’s support to herself and Jim during his illness, that she decided to donate five per cent from every invoice for Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) to the Slynedales-based charity.
Nicola previously worked as a management consultant in London but set up her own business to help people with their Wills after she had a “terrible time” putting Jim’s affairs in order while he was ill and after she lost him.
Jim, who worked for Cox Motor Group on White Lund, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2017.
Like many other people with this most deadly of cancers, his symptoms were simply back and stomach pains and only after he became jaundiced was there more investigation.
His diagnosis was too late for curative treatment, and this is the case with so many more sufferers, even today.
CancerCare was a huge help to Jim and Nicola during this time.
“We didn’t know anything about CancerCare at first,” said Nicola.
“We were referred to them through Macmillan Cancer Support and at our initial appointment we found out all about how they support the patient and the patient’s family.
“They offer holistic therapies and counselling.
“Jim learned some techniques which really helped him face anxiety about treatment, and also took advantage of reflexology therapy which helped some of the side effects.
“I saw a therapist throughout Jim’s treatment, sometimes just relaxing with a massage, and other times talking about how I felt.
“We both found the place really calming and came away feeling we had really benefitted.
“We felt we could talk to people who knew what we were going through.”
But when it came to sorting out their affairs, the couple’s experience was entirely the opposite.
“We were advised by the doctors to “get our affairs in order”, which is something no-one wants to hear,” said Nicola.
“We had Wills but knew they needed updating. We were quoted over £1000 to get two new Wills and two Lasting Powers of Attorney.
“We were lucky that we could afford to spend that amount but many people facing that sort of situation may not be able to.
“I realised through that time just how important LPAs were. For example, I wasn’t able to talk to the DWP on Jim’s behalf during the times he was poorly with the treatment or when he was in hospital because he wasn’t there to pass their security process.
“So I had to wait for the times he felt well enough to get on with some of these important items.”
In the end, Jim lost his battle in August 2018, before all the right documents could be finalised.
“I knew that the Will Jim had didn’t reflect his last wishes, so I had to do a lot of work to make sure that it was legally amended so the outcome was what he really wanted,” she said.
“And the LPAs came through too late to be of any use at all.”
After losing Jim, Nicola felt she needed to move her professional life in a different direction.
Her experience and the difficulties she had faced with these important documents made her decide to start her own Will writing business.
“I wasn’t sure if it would be too much emotionally,” she said.
“But I’ve felt like I can put myself in people’s shoes. I’m able to talk to them, knowing how it can feel.
“It’s about helping people who shouldn’t be in a position where they can’t afford to be protected. I don’t think it’s right for people to have to do an online Will where they don’t know exactly what they are getting.
“I’m hoping to bridge that gap where you don’t have to spend a fortune, but you get a proper Will writing service.
“I don’t want it to be a daunting experience for people. I’ve had personal experience of what can go wrong.”
Morecambe Bay Wills & Estates has very quickly built an excellent reputation for quality and professionalism in Will writing, helping to protect people and their loved ones, by ensuring their wishes are followed after death.
Nicola has undertaken training and exams and is now a member of the Society of Will Writers, the leading self-regulatory body for professional estate planners with 1700 members worldwide. This means that she must follow a strict code of compliance, have insurance and continually update her knowledge.
And she has also been helping CancerCare after their immense support to herself and Jim.
“They are a local, small charity and I wanted to do something to help them,” she said.
“I thought I could give back to them by giving them a percentage from the cost of each Will I produce.”
So far Morecambe Bay Wills & Estates has raised more than £600 for CancerCare towards a target of £1000 in 2020 and will continue to raise funds in future years.
For more about Morecambe Bay Wills & Estates, see www.morecambebaywills.co.uk