This is a personal post, which I’ve been thinking about for days following the death of someone very special last weekend. Jane Bell, owner of the Druidstone in Pembrokeshire, wife, mother, grandmother and friend to so many (including me) died on 12 August after a battle against pancreatic cancer.
Hundreds of people came to the hotel yesterday from all across the world to celebrate a lady who has spent the last 40 years creating the most remarkable place many of us have known.
The Dru’ is a special place (need I say more?). I was lucky to have been brought up nearby and have spent many happy, sad and momentous times there. Jane was at the heart of it; welcoming, encouraging, mentoring, campaigning, championing ‘the right way’ to do things and making something that was her own in every sense.
My memories of Jane are simple ones, of catch-ups and acts of kindness. On New Year’s Day 2000, while movers and shakers were bristling at ‘rip off Britain’ and their crap night at the Dome, I was at the hotel with a posse until dawn. After heading to the beach for a dip, we were given breakfast before heading up the road to our beds. My mates were amazed at the hospitality, but it was typical Jane and a marvelous start to the Millennium.
I was so lucky to have known her well. It’s difficult not to feel, however, that her passing has come far too soon: when I last saw Jane there was no hint of what was to come. I was shocked to hear that she had died.
But I’ve been told by those who’ve become familiar with the condition that the cancer Jane had is one of the worst forms of the illness, with the least chance of survival. It doesn’t have to be this way. There is a petition set up to call for better services to help detect and treat the illness at an early stage. I’ve signed it. I’m sure many of those who were there yesterday will have done too.
Even if you’ve never been to the Dru’, or don’t know anyone who has had the illness, I hope you sign it too.