Geoffrey Elmore may describe himself as just an “ordinary man” but his life has been rather extraordinary.
The great grandfather started out as a rocket engineer in his twenties and went on to spend 25 years designing and building oxygen plants that made 1,500 tons of oxygen a day by separation of air.
And with such an impressive career, you may expect Geoffrey to be an intimidating man, but he is charismatic and in his element chatting and sharing stories with fellow patients and staff when he attends the Day Therapy Unit on Friday.
Geoffrey, who has secondary lung cancer, initially feared the worst when he was referred to the hospice, but he soon discovered how much he could benefit from the support and activities available to him.
“When I was referred here I was a bit surprised because I did not feel like I was near the end of my life and I am so glad to come here now,” said Geoffrey, who lives in Brentwood with his wife Margaret.
"“I know the care I am going to get will be wonderful. It is a great comfort to me and it will take the load off the shoulders of my wife as it will be a difficult time
“You are not made to feel like you are ill and you get to see a doctor or a nurse if you need to. It is a really great asset.”
Geoffrey with fellow day therapy patient Leanne and TOWIE's Danni Armstrong.
Geoffrey has already written a 35,000 word précis of his life and he is hoping that being part of the hospice’s creative writing group, which is led by Bereavement and Support Counsellor Sue Spong, will enable him to develop his story further.
“Sue sets out ideas for creative writing and then starts the therapy as it is going on,” said Geoffrey.
"I find it so interesting to learn about other people.
“Everyone in the group is very unwell but they are still enjoying life and that is incredible.
“I am very much a people’s person and I really enjoy talking with other patients.”
Born into a family of 15 children in North London, Geoffrey’s humble beginnings inspired him to work hard and gave him the determination that would enable him to embark on an international career as a design engineer.
He was fortunate to be able to study engineering at technical school before getting an engineering apprenticeship.
This led to his first job as a rocket engineer, designing and building rocket engines for a fighter jet.
He later went on to become a senior engineer, designing and building oxygen plants for the steel industry, which saw him travel the world and chair European inter-company technical committees.
He retired at the age of 53 and devoted his time to his hobby making pottery. Geoffrey went on to become a successful potter, exhibiting and selling a range of pottery figures and household items at events in the UK and in France until 2012 when he started suffering health problems.
"Coming to the hospice is the best thing that has happened to me in a long while. I look forward to seeing my friends, having a laugh as well as discussing my problems.
“I had no idea that a hospice was anything more than a place to spend your last couple of weeks in care, but after coming here I realised it was such an uplifting experience.
“It is a wonderful opportunity to talk with nurses and doctors because they know me and they are able to be very helpful and supportive.”
Geoffrey died on Sunday 5th March. You can donate to Saint Francis Hospice via the MuchLoved page his family set up in Geoffrey's memory.