DESPITE criticism surrounding the NHS, a woman whose grandfather passed away from pneumonia at Cirencester Hospital said that she could only thank staff at Coln Ward for their care.

34-year-old Deborah Smith’s grandfather, Harry Smith, of Beaumoor Place, Fairford, died at age 86 on February 20, 6.30pm.

Mr Smith was first admitted to Swindon Hospital, then transferred to Cirencester Hospital, after a stroke before Christmas. He was diagnosed with pneumonia on February 10, and five days later, Ms Smith was told he would be receiving end-of-life care.

Ms Smith, who lives in Cardiff, said: “He did not respond to anti-biotics. It was a horrible time.

“But the staff there were so supportive. They told me I could stay as long as I liked, gave me a reclining chair so I could sit by gramps, and every hour, they would bring us tea. They allowed me to stay there 24/7, and offered me a room.

“My aunt, my uncle and I stayed for five nights. If I could give something back, I would.

“The NHS has received plenty of bad press but we can only express our sincerest thanks for them, caring for gramps and for us in the most professional yet compassionate way.

“In this instance, the NHS service was above and beyond the level of what I expected. The staff were not just doing their jobs, they could see how much it meant to me and gramps.

“I thought they would just leave gramps to die, but they tried to do everything they could to make his final hours as comfortable and serene as possible. It was eye-opening.”

Speaking of the NHS, she said: “We are very lucky to live in a country where there is free healthcare. People often hear of bad experiences, but I want to make sure NHS staff get recognition for their positive work.”

Mr Smith was an engineer for the RAF and lived in Cirencester for 13 years. He married Meg Smith in 1952 and has two sons, four grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

He took care of his wife in her final days before she passed away of cancer at the age of 81 in 2010.

Ms Smith said: “Most of my happy childhood memories were spent with my nan and gramps. They were such a big part of my life, they were like my mum and dad that I did not have.

“Even at age 82, he turned up on my doorstep to surprise me for my birthday at a Sunday morning.

“He loved the Cotswolds. As old as he was, he was able to take us to Bourton-on-the-water and the railway museum.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Harry Smith and 11-year-old grandson Ethan Campbell with his cross-stitch 'The Toy Shop'Harry Smith and 11-year-old grandson Ethan Campbell with his cross-stitch 'The Toy Shop'

Mr Smith took up cross-stitching as a hobby in his later life. His last wish was to have his cross-stitch, ‘The Toy Shop’, brought to the paediatric ward at Cirencester Hospital.

“He wanted to bring some joy to children at the hospital so they did not just feel like people going through illnesses. He wanted to make children smile,” Ms Smith said.