Fri, 05 Jul 2019
HUNGERFORD woman Sara Fenton has won national recognition for her work for the Dignity In Dying campaign.
And she was due to participate in an historic debate on assisted dying in the House of Commons yesterday (Thursday).
Mrs Fenton was awarded the Romey Brown Memorial Prize for Campaigner of the Year 2019 at the recent annual meeting of Dignity in Dying.
The PA to the headteacher at Hungerford Nursery School said she was “overwhelmed” by the honour and added: “This award is not just for me, but for the West Berkshire group, who have been incredibly supportive and without whom we would not have achieved so much in the last year.”
In November 2017, Mrs Fenton travelled with her husband Keith and their children, Edward and Charlotte, to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.
Mr Fenton, a former soldier, had been battling the incurable neuro-degenerative illness Huntington’s Disease and Mrs Fenton said: “When we accompanied Keith to Switzerland so that he could have a dignified death, I promised him I’d join the campaign to change the law in this country so people no longer had to travel abroad.
“Keith was so scared of becoming too ill to travel that he went earlier than he had to.
“He would have lived quite happily for another few years just knowing he had the option.
“We could have had another Christmas together with our two children.
“It’s sad people can’t have that chance in this day and age.
“What’s more, we could afford the £10,000 it costs to go to Dignitas – think of those families that can’t.
“Many more terminally-ill people suffer against their wishes and this is wrong.”
Meanwhile, said Mrs Fenton: “There are really exciting times coming up for the campaign – The Royal College of GPs announced it will be surveying members on assisted dying, following the Royal College of Physicians which did so earlier this year and dropped its long-standing opposition in favour of neutrality.”
Also, Mrs Fenton and Charlotte have been invited to attend the House of Commons today for the first major debate on assisted dying since 2015.
The ‘Ann and Geoff Whaley debate’ will explore the functioning of the current law relating to assisted dying and the issues it causes for terminally-ill people and their families.
Eighty-year-old Geoffrey Whaley from Buckinghamshire died at Dignitas in Switzerland in February.
He had terminal motor neurone disease and, due to an anonymous call to authorities that he planned to end his life abroad, he and his wife Ann, aged 76, were both investigated by police and social services.
The family feared that Mr Whaley would be prevented from travelling or his wife might be arrested for assisting a suicide – a crime which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
Mrs Fenton said: “I’m glad that MPs have a chance to discuss this in the Commons and I look forward to supporting Ann Whaley at the debate.”
The next meeting of the West Berkshire Dignity in Dying group is on Saturday, September 14, at 11am at the Royal British Legion, Pelican Lane, Newbury.
All are welcome to attend.
For more information about the group, Mrs Fenton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org