14 May 2018

New Year’s Eve.

Techno tunes and festive faces filled the dance floor of a Yorkshire nightclub.

Chris Pointon was counting down the final hours of 2001 with his closest friends when he spotted Kate from across the bar.

“It was love at first sight,” he remembers.

And, it was the moment that changed his life forever.

At the time, beautiful Kate Granger was two and a half years into her medical degree at the University of Edinburgh.

It was love at first sight

Her infectious smile and big brown eyes completely swept Chris off his feet.

A year later, the couple were engaged. And, on July 23, 2005, Chris and Kate became husband and wife.

The newly weds
The happy couple on their wedding day - 23/07/2005

“It was the happiest day of my life.

“We had everything going for us,” Chris, a logistics manager for ASDA’s head office, smiles.

It wasn’t until a holiday in Los Angeles in 2011, when Kate started to feel back pain.

Devastatingly, Kate was suffering a rare and aggressive form of cancer that had spread to her bones and liver. One moment she was a doctor caring for elderly people and the next she was a cancer patient, living with a terminal illness.

As a doctor, Kate knew that she would not get better. Between gruelling treatments, she went back to work, referring to her cancer as the “gremlin.” It became the focus of her drive to complete a bucket list, fundraise, blog frankly about facing death and launch a campaign that’s inspired people around the world.

We had everything going for us

From raising £250,000 with Chris for the Leeds Cancer Centre where she was treated, to getting a tattoo, Kate achieved many things in the five years after her diagnosis.

Her enduring legacy is #HelloMyNameIs — a campaign launched to encourage and inspire every healthcare professional introduce themselves and make a truly human connection with every patient they meet.

Kate wrote two books about living with cancer. She also began blogging and vowed to “live-Tweet” her death to encourage the UK to talk more openly about dying.

And now, just in time for Dying Matters Week — a campaign which aims to change attitudes towards death and dying — playwright Brian Daniels has created a beautiful performance of Kate’s remarkable story. The Hello My Name Is play emphasises Kate’s commitment to improve the lives of patients, and leave the world a better place.

#HelloMyNameIs

The idea for #HelloMyNameIs was sparked during a hospital stay in August 2013, when Kate was being treated for post-operative sepsis.

“I made the stark observation that many staff looking after me, did not introduce themselves before delivering my care.

“It felt incredibly wrong that such a basic step in communication was missing,” Kate wrote in a blog post.

Kate Granger - Hello My Name Is
Hello my name is... Kate

It wasn’t until a porter called Brian, introduced himself to Kate, when she realised the difference it made.

“I said to Kate, ‘let’s do something about it’ and so we did,” says Chris.

Richard Branson
Richard Branson supporting Chris & Kate's campaign

“We took advantage of her 24,000 Twitter followers and kicked off the #HelloMyNameIs campaign then and there.

“That evening, she sent me home to design the logo.”

Since 2013, #HelloMyNameIs has popped up on two billion social media pages, with support from celebrities including Kylie Minogue, James Martin, Drew Barrymore and Richard Branson, to spread the word.

Kylie Minouge
Big smiles all round - Kylie Minouge supporting #HelloMyNameIs

“It’s just something so simple, making the biggest difference,” Chris says.

“#HelloMyNameIs is Kate’s legacy” says co-founder Chris.

“It’s now keeping her memory alive all over the world.”

Hello My Name Is sticker
#HelloMyNameIs stickers

##Remembering Kate

Kate lived for five years with her cancer and died on July 23, 2016 — the Granger-Pointon’s 11th wedding anniversary.

Generous and thoughtful, she had poured her heart and soul into being a good doctor. She was incredibly committed, and well-respected amongst her peers and patients.

When she hadn’t been working, she was usually in the kitchen baking a batch of her famous raspberry-chocolate brownies.

Kate's brownies
Kate's infamous raspberry and chocolate brownies

She also made an incredible butternut squash risotto.

“I’ve tried so hard to master her recipe, but I’ve never got it to taste the same,” Chris smiles.

Her cooking and sweet treats were often up for grabs at charity bake sales. Kate was passionate about fundraising for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre in Leeds to improve the quality of life for its patients.

In her last two years, as part of Kate's bucket list, her and Chris successfully raised over £250,000 to support the charity.

I've tried so hard to master her recipe

She also ticked off skydiving; meeting Gary Barlow; renewing her wedding vows and being an extra in Coronation Street, off her end-of-life wishlist.

##Undying love

“My girl was all about making a difference in the world,” says Chris.

And she did just that.

Even when it came to the small things — like birthday cards.

Birthday card
Kate left Chris a box full of birthday cards to open on his special day

Before Kate died, she penned a series of touching, handwritten birthday cards for Chris, each one with the date on which it should be opened.

“That’s just how Kate was, always thinking of others,” he smiles.

“It’s the little things I miss the most,” he adds.

“Like coming home from a tough day at work, and cooking dinner together.

“Just putting our feet up and relaxing.”

Chris & Kate
Soulmates - Chris & Kate

Kate was a huge fan of film. She loved classics like Pride and Prejudice, but her favourite movie of all time was Forrest Gump.

“In a way, the movie is so relevant to our life together,” says Chris.

“Life is like a box of chocolates… Kate and I certainly didn’t know what we’d get out of it.”

“If it weren’t for my cancer I would never have met such amazing people, and achieved such wonderful accolades,” said Kate, in a video recording, before she died.

And for Chris, he’s able to truly treasure the 11 years that they spent together as husband and wife.

“She still continues to make me proud every day.

“She truly was and is one in a billion and my soul mate forever.”