FOR SOMEONE who has lived a healthy life and has youth on side, thinking about death is a downer often saved for the future.

When dealt the shattering blow of a terminal illness, that person will quickly have to confront how they want to spend their final moments.

Dale Pritchard had two wishes when the shock of his diagnosis subsided: to die in the comfort of his own home, and not to be in pain.

Sobell House Hospice in Headington was able to support the 55-year-old with both requests, providing a specialist palliative care nurse to oversee his care at home in Witney.

His wife Melaine Pritchard, who now lives in Carterton, said: "Dale was very clear that he wanted to die at home and we went over and above, where we could, to fulfil that.

"Ali [the Sobell nurse] came in every week and we knew she was a phone call away.

"She was a big comfort to us.

"I think they become like a member of extended family, when you consistently see a person and get used to them."

Baker Mr Pritchard, who was born in Oxford, had cancer affecting his bowel and liver.

The father-of-three was diagnosed in April 2016 after several weeks of feeling ill, and died just months later in the December.

His youngest daughter moved her wedding forward so he could attend the ceremony and walk her down the aisle.

Supercar and F1 enthusiast Mr Pritchard, who also had a passion for travelling, posted lengthy public Facebook posts throughout his illness.

An extract from a post in September stated: "I quite often spend hours lying in bed staring at the ceiling and thinking about my life and the girls growing up, the things we have done and the places we have been.

"A mixture of emotions is constantly flowing through your head with feelings of incredible joy and extreme sadness.

"This hurts and upsets me more than anything, to know the pain that will have to be endured by my friends and family once the inevitable happens.

"I know everyone hopes for a miracle, but the facts are that most people that are diagnosed with liver cancer similar to mine have a life expectancy of six to 18 months.

"Time for me is of the essence. Dying is not scary for me - it's living.

"Making sure my family and I see and feel I have lived a worthwhile and happy end, and creating memories that help to soften the devastating blow that will follow."

He even organised a gathering with his loved ones in July, which he proudly called his 'kicking the bucket party'.

Mrs Pritchard, 56, said her husband stayed positive even when his illness took a turn.

She said caring for him at home was challenging at times, and credited the Sobell nurse for making the process easier.

The part-time finance administrator said: "She was clearly a very caring person and she didn't make things sound pretty, she was very factual and always listened to what Dale and I had to say.

"At one stage we struggled with his pain relief and she spent a lot of time trying to get the pain under control and talked to the specialist at Sobell about what we could do."

The couple lived for Witney for 26 years but were living in Brighton when Mr Pritchard fell ill.

They moved back to the town to be closer to family, as two of their daughters live in Oxfordshire, and their doctor got in touch with Sobell for help at home.

The hospice is perhaps best known for its ward and day centre services, both at its base at the Churchill Hospital site, but it also has an outreach team tasked with helping patients in hospitals and in the community.

Mrs Pritchard said she wanted to give back to the hospice and raised more than £5,220 for Sobell House through a memorial ball, dinner and auction in tribute to her late husband.

She then took up Sobell's offer of counselling, which is offered both at the hospice or at home, and said this helped with her grief.

Mrs Pritchard said: "For everybody else, once the funeral has taken place, their day-to-day lives go back to normal.

"But you have got no way of knowing what normal is anymore."

This week Sobell House is inviting its supporters to share their stories of care, to coincide with national Hospice Care Week.