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.
I’ll set the ball rolling in terms of a brief comment. I was so sorry to hear this sad news about Dennis. He was a true friend of Gateway Family Services, always being the first to pipe up and say to anyone that would listen that he appreciated what we did in terms of our partnership with the PHF. He was also effusive in his praise of the specific staff who supported the group – and there’s been quite a chain of different people, all I know would be saddened too by this news. I was very fond of Dennis and always felt bad when he invited me along to the group and had to send my apologies because of some other commitment. He always said he understood and just invited me again! I’m really pleased therefore that I got along to one of the last PHF meetings that took place before we went into lockdown and saw him. He joked that it would be a while before I got again. Little did we know what was around the corner and that it would be a while for all of us and everything! I agree with Pauline that the PHF meetings (because I’m confident they will start again) will miss the influence of Dennis.
I was very sad to hear that Dennis had passed away in early November. He was always the life and soul of our gatherings and his ability to home in on someone who needed some support was amazing. His energy and enthusiasm knew no bounds. At Committee meetings he was always very organised and would come armed with notes. He always insisted that we communicated decisions to the membership of the group and took great care to ensure that the message was going to be clear. He very quickly earned the friendship and respect of everyone in the group and will be sorely missed.