The Young Ones

Saul Keene was a positive role model for so many. He had a huge heart and did so much to help young Jewish people growing up in Redbridge. Saul became a volunteer youth leader and took those who looked up to him on a tour of Israel.
Saul

When he was just 30 years old, Saul was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had only been married for 10 weeks. Saul became an inpatient at Saint Francis Hospice, where our nurses doted on him.

"They made such a fuss of my boy," recalled Saul's mum, Nettie.

Saul underwent surgery to remove the tumour and was discharged from our Hospice. He went on to have two children with his wife, Michelle. As Saul was riding high on married life and fatherhood, he received heartbreaking news. The tumour had returned. Another operation followed, only for the cancer to return once more. This time, the tumour was inoperable.

Saul was no longer able to work full-time as a travel agent, but that didn't mean his caring nature had to end too. He took a part-time job on reception at the Redbridge Jewish Community Centre. Saul was the first friendly face people would see when they visited. This job meant the world to him.

"Saul knew he wanted to go back to Saint Francis Hospice when the time came", said Nettie.

Ten years after his first diagnosis, Saul passed away peacefully at our Hospice with his loved ones around him. He was just 40 years old — his children only five and seven. During those 10 years, Saul became a hugely loved person at our Hospice. Saul's mum formed a special bond with British actress Cathy Murphy when they met at one of our fundraising events in 2009. They both had something in common; we cared for Cathy's mum when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

"She was a trooper," declared Cathy. "Mum came to the Hospice, and for eight weeks, she refused to die."

Cathy described how her mum was adamant that she wasn't going to our Hospice, then became adamant that she didn't want to leave.

"She took a lot of persuading to go in", recalled Cathy. "The Hospice would have let her go home, but she didn't want to. That's how much she loved this place.

"She started to live again. The experience we had at the Hospice was unbelievable. Everyone was so kind, and it became our second home — we practically moved in. The staff were angels."

Cathy admitted that she had reservations about our Hospice too:

"I wasn't expecting it to be so beautiful. They made a horribly sad time so much easier. The Hospice is set up to make your bereavement kinder. Mum felt safe, looked after, and nurtured here. The staff didn't just look after mum, but the whole family. They created a beautiful death for her."

In 2009, Saul's friends set up a charity in this memory, named after his favourite TV programme: The Young Ones. Nettie continues to volunteer at the Redbridge Jewish Community Centre, where she has been helping young people for the past 48 years. Since its creation, The Young Ones has raised over a whopping £21,000 for our Hospice. Thank you to everyone who has given so much.

With only 27% of our total running costs coming from the government, we rely on people like Saul's friends to help us find £21,000 a day, which is what it takes to keep our doors open.

If you'd like to raise money for our Hospice, then we'd love to hear from you on 01708 753319 or at fundraising@sfh.org.uk

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Michelle Gower, Nettie Keene, Cathy Murphy and Charlotte Winder with the big cheque

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