Retired stonemason Simon Starr with his sculpture he created for Nelson Tasman Hospice. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Simon’s Everest effort to honour wife for hospice

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Simon Starr knows about the work that Nelson Tasman Hospice does all too well.

After his wife Alison was diagnosed with breast cancer, the couple often were visited by its workers to make sure they were OK.

Alison died in May 2018, aged only 51, but Simon’s work to keep her memory alive is going strong with the delivery of a sculpture he did several years ago.

The retired stonemason sculpted a horse’s head several years ago for a fundraiser organised by the local chapter of BNI. Now it sits in the Nelson Tasman Hospice’s foyer.

However, that is only part of Simon’s efforts. Come Sunday, he will be flying out to the Himalaya to climb to Everest Base Camp with his son. The trip is a way to raise money for the hospice.

“The past year has been a struggle,” says Simon. “It hasn’t been easy.”

But about nine months ago, his son Dean texted him asking if he wanted to climb to Everest Base Camp.

“We can do it in memory of mum,” Dean said.

Simon knew it was his son’s way of keeping his dad focused and moving forward, but he thought it would be a great experience, and one that Alison would have approved of.

“She was something else,” Simon says. “She was so strong.”

He says that the challenge to climb to base camp felt right in that it would be out of his comfort zone.

“We wanted to do something that would do that, but we have the choice. There are rooms of people in hospice who don’t have a choice. So, if we can raise money to make their time a bit easier then it makes sense.”

Simon has been preparing for the trip by doing expeditions like climbing Mt Robert and the Tongariro Crossing. He has also been working out in altitude chambers to make sure he can handle the height of the seven day up, five day down journey.

He has also raised $12,000 for the cause.

“Alison was the catalyst for that. She was the inspiration.”

Simon says the final months he and Alison spent together were the most special of their lives.

“It sounds strange, but you talk about things you would never imagine. You get so close.”

You can donate to Simon’s cause by visiting: https://givealittle.co.nz/fundraiser/starrs-to-base-camp-for-hospice