Pauline and Carroll both volunteered as Magistrates outside of their full-time jobs. They first met at a training course and continued to see each other around the court, but their relationship blossomed after they bonded over grabbing a burger together on Broad Street in Birmingham after a disappointing Magistrates dinner.
In August 2001 Carroll proposed to Pauline and they married the following year and moved to Erdington. The couple both had children from previous relationships and fostered, but in 2005 they had their first child Laela together.
“He was a dad to all of my children as well as his own,” Pauline said. “He learnt British Sign Language so that he could communicate with my son who is profoundly deaf. One evening my daughter Leona, who’d recently moved away to Derby for university, called to say she felt homesick. The next minute Carroll said he was popping out and he actually drove up there to bring her home. His son was a keen footballer and he never missed a game. He was such a wonderful dad.”
Carroll was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018. He was then referred to John Taylor Hospice for pain management which is where he and Pauline met the Community Team. In December 2021 Carroll began to deteriorate very quickly.
Pauline said: “Carroll had been suffering from pain in his shoulders, but he was still walking around and able to do things. In December he woke up and fell out of bed trying to get to the bathroom. I called the hospice and asked if we could borrow a urinal for the night. Straight away they said ‘of course, no problem at all’. Literally I put the phone down and popped over and five minutes later I had it.
“The care is second to none”
“I spoke to one of the nurses at the hospice that day about Carroll’s symptoms and she said it didn’t seem right. She suggested we called 111 and ask them to do an assessment. The paramedics came out and Carroll was taken into hospital where they found out the cancer had spread to his spine. Without that lady I think we probably would have carried on struggling at home.”
“The hospice is such an invaluable service. It is so much more than a place people go to die”
The charity continued to support Carroll and his family throughout his illness. From practical support to emotional, the hospice was there for their whole family all the way.
“Nothing was ever too much for Marie, Pip and the team,” Pauline added. “They even supported me in recognising that Carroll was nearing the end so that I could arrange with Laela’s school to have time off and spend time with her dad during his last few days.
“I didn’t have to worry about anything, I knew if the hospice said they were going to do it that it would get done. The hospice always put Carroll first and I will always be so grateful for that.”
“They were my anchor”
Carroll sadly died in January 2022 but the hospice has continued to support Pauline and her family.
Pauline said: “They really supported us with every aspect and were just so lovely. Little things like asking me ‘are you ok?’ They saw us all as a unit and my granddaughter now has counselling at the hospice.
“The hospice always put Carroll first, and I will always be so grateful for that”
“The hospice is such an invaluable service. It is so much more than a place people go to die. Nothing was ever too much trouble. When you’re involved with the hospice you become part of the family and it stays that way even after the person in their care has died. They were my anchor.”
Carroll and Pauline’s family and friends raised an incredible £650 for The Hospice Charity Partnership at Carroll’s funeral. In the future Pauline hopes to continue fundraising to support the work of the charity, she added: “It’s such an important thing to ensure these services can be accessed by people when they are needed.”
Thank you so much Pauline for sharing your story. If you would like to donate to support hospice care, please click here.