Actress, Zoe Croft tells us why she’s supporting our In Memory walk, Shine Bright this autumn.
Zoe was a just a teenager when both her parents tragically died. During the years that followed she has navigated the challenges of grief and is now determined to use her platform and experience to raise awareness about hospice care and bereavement services, so that others can benefit.
“My Mum’s name was Jill, she loved horses and was a terrible cook, truly, truly terrible. She was a teacher, and we lived locally in Lewes”.
Zoe was an only child and very close to her parents. Jill developed a rare form of breast cancer and lived with it for 5 years.
“I had a lot of experience of Mum being in hospital, so many memories of her going through treatment; anyone that’s been through chemotherapy or has a family member that’s gone through that treatment knows how much it takes out of you, not just physically but mentally too. I was so young, and I’d grown up with that experience of my Mum enduring the treatment and its side effects”.
Zoe initially feared the hospice; she had never visited and knew nothing about St Peter & St James Hospice.
“I thought it would be scary because a lot of hospitals are scary places, so I’d imagined the hospice to be worse, especially when driving down through the woods at night. But when you walk in, it’s so bright and lovely here, everyone is so welcoming. It sounds odd but after all my Mum went through with her treatment, I have nothing but good memories of her being here.”
“When you have cancer or another life-limiting illness, people talk about how ʻwe’re going to fight this, we’re going to beat this, you need to be really strong’. Sometimes people get to a point where they simply can’t do that anymore.”
“Coming to the Hospice is like having that permission to stop fighting, to come somewhere where you are helped to have that quality time together, because time matters. You can enjoy those powerful moments of connection. It’s about making memories.”
Before she died, Jill spent time at the hospice, receiving respite care and counselling support.
“Mum benefited from the counselling services at the hospice during her illness. After she died, I was fortunate to receive counselling with the same person Mum had seen. It was lovely that I could talk to someone who understood my situation.”
Tragically, Zoe’s Dad Steve died suddenly at home just two weeks after Jill.
“What happened to me was life changing and I felt utterly lost. I’d lost my family, I was alone. The counselling provided by the Hospice changed my life. It was the stability I needed at that time, and it genuinely changed my life.”
“It is important for me to raise awareness of their services and support, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I’m lucky I have the platform to do something good.”
Last year on the anniversary of her parent’s funeral, Zoe chose to share her experience on her Instagram page; she hoped that by sharing, others would feel more comfortable talking about death and its impact. While most of her followers were incredibly supportive, unfortunately she was trolled with negative comments. Instead of simply ignoring them and carrying on, Zoe chose to reach out to the Hospice, to see what she could do to support our work.
“I think it’s hugely important that we talk about death and dying, it’s not something we talk about enough, it’s the unknown. I feel passionate about hospice care because when someone is at the end of their life, having the experience of that care can be transformative, to be shown such love and kindness, it’s so powerful.”
“It is ten years ago to the day that I sat on the ward with Mum. It’s weird to think back and reflect on everything that’s happened since, and what I’ve achieved. I hope my Mum and Dad would be proud.”
Zoe is now an award-winning filmmaker, actor, model, and composer. Best known for playing Greta Allinson in Holby City, she is also featuring in an upcoming series on Amazon. She is our Shine Bright Ambassador and will be leading our Shine Bright – Moonlight Walk on 7th October.
“Supporting Shine Bright is my absolute pleasure. I’m looking forward to the event and seeing everyone lighting up the night in celebration of the lives of the people they have come to remember.”
“I will be walking for my Mum and Dad and hoping they are proud of me and the good I’m trying to achieve in raising awareness of hospice care.”