We were very sad to hear about the passing of Dennis Hayes, a member of the Patient Health Forum (the South Birmingham Long Term Conditions Group that Gateway facilitates on behalf of Birmingham and Solihull CCG). We understand that he died suddenly at home, of a suspected heart attack, at the beginning of November.
We first met Dennis in 2014, when his GP referred him to the Health Trainer service for help with his weight. He and his Health Trainer Richard had a good rapport and built up a solid relationship, staying in touch even when Dennis’ need for Health Trainer support ended.
It was Richard who suggested that Dennis might like to join the Patient Health Forum, and encouraged him to go along – which he did, becoming a regular attendee and eventually committee member. When he chatted with us in 2019, he told us that joining the group had helped him to build his confidence and reduce his anxiety.
Our thoughts go out to those who knew Dennis, especially his friends at the Forum.
A statement from the committee
Pauline Hartley shared these words on behalf of the Patient Health Forum committee:
Dennis had been a member of the PHF for some years, going from a quiet and nervous newcomer to a valued mainstay of the committee.
He learned to share what he saw as the benefits of the group because he wanted to help members gain the confidence that he felt he had done over the time he had attended. He eventually joined the committee because he felt he needed to give something back to the group that had supported him. The committee are very grateful for his hard work over the years, often in uncertain times. He sometimes surprised even himself in the way that his confidence had grown and, although we knew him as a quiet man, he could be forceful and determined if he felt it necessary.
Those of us that were lucky enough to know him outside of the group knew him to be caring, courteous, generous, practical and an interesting friend. He enjoyed going to National Trust properties, where his knowledge of history made him an ideal companion. He liked music and theatre and his wry sense of humour often lightened a meal or coffee out, something he enjoyed doing. He liked to look after his home, where he had a collection of paperweights amongst his interests. He also liked to socialise and keep as fit as possible with his friends at the gym.
He cared deeply for the people in the group and the people from Gateway and relished being able to signpost anyone towards help. He was always ready to chat and fetch that ever important cuppa.
He battled with ill health with fortitude and wasn’t afraid to ask for, or take, help. He had come to understand the complex ups and downs of physical and mental health and so was a great help to people who appreciated his empathy.
He will be missed as a PHF member and friend and everyone’s lives will be poorer for his sudden passing.
If you knew Dennis and would like to share your thoughts or memories, you can add a comment below and it will appear underneath this article.