When Eileen Hindle promised to love her husband Jeff “until death do us part” she meant every single word.
And when Jeff started suffering from ill health and had to be admitted to hospital, she was there by his side and tended to his every need whether at home or in hospital.
To make life easier for the couple and to prevent them being parted, staff at Royal Preston Hospital set up a bed for Eileen at Jeff’s bedside and the pair were even able to enjoy meals together.
Sadly, Jeff lost his fight for life and died peacefully in his wife’s arms while in hospital earlier this month.
However, Eileen says knowing she was there for Jeff’s final moments has given her great solace and she will never forget the kindness shown to her by hospital staff many of who are still in touch with her now she is home.
Eileen, who lives in Garstang, says: “I cannot praise the hospital staff highly enough.
“They looked after both of us and went over and beyond what they had to do and were so caring. Nothing was too much trouble for them.
“I was with Jeff right up until the end and he was not on his own and that is something I am very glad of.”
Eileen and Jeff had been married for 36 years and were friends before that after working together.
Jeff, 82, who worked as a maintenance manager before he retired and Eileen, who used to run a bar, a cafe and a chip shop in Southport, were enjoying their retirement together going to steam rallies and exhibitions throughout the country.
Jeff, who had a daughter and two grandchildren from his first marriage, also enjoyed doing DIY and loved sports including football, golf and cricket.
However, Jeff first became ill around 22 months ago when his leg became swollen and he was admitted to Royal Preston Hospital.
Eileen remembers: “Jeff had the fluid drained from his leg and we went home. But a few days later, it became swollen again so we went back in.
“Then while he was in the medical assessment unit, he suddenly suffered a cardiac arrest and his heart stopped three times and he had to be resuscitated.
“After that, he was in and out of hospital and he had pneumonia, slight heart attacks and pulmonary embolisms in his lungs.
“But since the first time Jeff was admitted to hospital, the staff let me stay with him all the time.
“I did not go home. I was by his side all the time and I would help to feed him and bathe him and turn him.
“Basically, I did everything for him that I would have done if he had been at home.
“I slept at the side of Jeff’s bed in a reclining chair and we had all our meals together just like we would have done at home.
“I wanted to be with Jeff and to help him. I did not want to leave him.
“I came from a big family where everybody looked out for each other and I wanted to be with my husband and stay by his side.
“Jeff would also get upset if he couldn’t see me and start calling for me. The last thing I wanted was for him to feel upset or confused.
“It was heartbreaking to see Jeff ill because he was so active before and he was the type of person who never stopped.
“Jeff was so kind, gentle and caring and he never grumbled or complained throughout his illness.
“He was my best friend as well as my husband and we got on smashing.”
Eileen is full of praise for the hospital staff from everyone to the doctors and nurses to the porters and catering staff.
She says: “We could not have been looked after as well anywhere else in the world as we did in Preston.
“As well as making sure Jeff was al lright, they supported me and made sure I was okay.
“I really cannot put into words how good the hospital staff were with us and how well they cared for us.
“They even kept in touch with us after we went home and since Jeff died, they have been in touch with me to make sure I am coping.
“Jeff died in my arms and was settled and comfortable. He went to sleep and just slipped away.
“I was with him right till the final moment which is lovely to know.”
Sandie McQueen, ward manager, said: “We got to know Mr and Mrs Hindle very well during his time in hospital.
“It was important to them both that Mrs Hindle could be by his bedside and we tried to make sure they were both as comfortable as possible.
“We wanted to make sure the time they had left together was precious and we are glad this was able to happen.”