A family is raising funds for Pilgrims Hospices in memory of Margate husband, dad, grandad and dedicated foster carer Ronald Deslandes.
Ronald, best known as Des, passed away this month at Thanet hospice with his ‘massive’ family at his side after a 10 month battle against cancer.
The 70-year-old is remembered as a “strong, tough, proud, warrior,” who shared an enormous amount of love and was a man of morals and principles.
Des was born in Hackney and moved to Margate some 43 years ago.
He had eight children, 10 grandchildren and he and wife Jane were also parents to scores of foster children, including parent and child, through the years.
Des worked as a driver for East Kent Buses (Stagecoach) and then L and I Coaches, who he was with up until his diagnosis in February this year.
Son Jon said: “Family was everything to Dad and he absolutely adored all of his grandchildren. He loved nothing more than when you would climb all over him, with the rough and tumble, tickles and giggles of excitement. He was not always one to show his emotions but I remember seeing him not be able to hold back tears of pride and joy as his granddaughters won awards for their dancing. He absolutely loved watching them, and his children in their amazing dance performances.
“He also loved hearing about how well they were all doing in school and the goals they scored in their football matches.
“Dad just had a way of always making children feel comfortable in his presence. Our house would always be full other people’s children who were welcomed in with their problems. Whether this was for his friendly ear to listen to their problems or to join in the fun of our household, such as joining the biggest water fight ever. Dad also had great love for his godchildren who he regularly expressed his love and pride for right up until the end.
“Dad adored all the foster children, those adopted and also the close friends and in laws. It takes a very very special person to love other children in equal measure to your own born. We are all proud that Dad did this and saw no boundaries to the love he shared.”
Des, who had been a weightlifter in his youth, is also remembered for his constant hard work and instilling in all his family the importance of a good work ethic, trustworthiness, honesty and decency.
Jon said: “We grew up on a council estate and as a big family, life was not always easy financially, but our dad taught us the value of a hard day’s work and instilled in us, the best work ethic.”
Also a talented cook and previously a bakery worker, Des face challenges when he first moved to Thanet.
Jon said: “ Life was not always easy for our dad. When he moved to Margate, times were very different to what they are now and he was one of a very small minority of black people in the area. He, along with us, faced our challenges with racism but he never confronted this with anger, hatred, resentment or a chip on his shoulder.
“Dad was a kind and loving person, who had to work even harder to gain the respect of everyone he met, but he did this in abundance. He was so loved and respected by his community. Whether it was his great love of repairing people’s cars in his garage, making Christmas cakes for his neighbours, driving his passengers to their home addresses to make sure they got home safe, or just the gentle loving smile he greeted all he met with, people very quickly adored him.
“He was just a kind soul who taught us to be confident, resilient and proud of who we are and where we have come from. His children. Dad will always be our role model.”
The family are now raising funds for Pilgrims in thanks for the care the charity gave Des.
On the fundraising page son Matthew says: “Dad’s final few weeks of life were spent at the Pilgrims Hospice Thanet. During these final weeks the hospice treated him with the utmost respect and dignity, making his time with them as comfortable as they could. Not only did they take care of his high levels of pain and suffering, but they also went out of their way to accommodate our family through the most difficult time of our lives.
“ Each and every staff member at the hospice helped to put our family at ease and we knew that our dad was being cared for and looked after in best way possible.”
Matthew says the family hope the funds can so that it can help the hospice: “continue to be a beacon of light when times may be dark for others in similar situations.
“We know that this is what Dad would have wanted.”
Pilgrims Hospices has sites in Thanet, Canterbury and Ashford where staff help people facing a terminal diagnosis, and their families, to live well in every moment. Care is provided at the hospices and in patients’ own homes.
To offer these services to patients and their families the charity must raise £11 million each year from the generous local community.