Terminally ill woman to fulfil helicopter flying dream thanks to kindness of strangers who surprised her after meeting at a pub

Published on 30th April 2019

Julia, Barrie and their dog, Bertie

A terminally ill woman will be fulfilling her dream of flying in a helicopter this Saturday thanks to a kind-hearted couple who treated her to the experience as a surprise after meeting her at their local pub.

Imagine meeting two people at your local pub, mentioning you would love to one day ride in a helicopter, then a few days later discovering that those two people, who you know only by their first names, have treated you to that once-in-a-lifetime experience. Julia Stathem doesn’t have to imagine this because this did actually happen to her.

Julia is 48-years-old and has terminal cancer in the oesophagus. She was on the LOROS Ward being treated for pain management, when she shared her experience; an experience that still, eight months after it happened, she admits still feels so surreal.

In a few weeks, Julia, of Oakham, Rutland, will be taking to the air in a helicopter thanks to two kind-hearted people, who she met in Autumn last year, while out walking her beloved dog, Bertie.

The couple, Dave and Deb – which is how Julia and her husband, Barrie, know them – gifted mother-of-one Julia with a helicopter ride.

To Julia though, this is so much more than a helicopter ride. It has not only changed her outlook on life but also the way she lives it.

“We were sitting at our local pub after a dog walk and we got talking to Dave and Deb,” said Julia, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer around a year ago.

“We got onto helicopter rides and I mentioned that riding in one was something that I would love to do.”

When Julia left the pub that day, she was unaware of Dave and Debs’ plans to help her tick a helicopter ride off her bucket list by treating her to the experience.

“I found a letter on my doormat with the experience inside and I couldn’t believe it,” added Julia.

“It’s never really sunk in that two people could do this.

“I can’t thank them enough, this is so much more than a helicopter ride.”

Julia says that this time last year, she was beginning to feel isolated and spent a lot at home, withdrawn, just in watching daytime television.

Having a planned helicopter ride has given Julia something to look forward to, which she says, has given her a new ‘lease of life’.

“My whole outlook on life has changed,” said Julia, who has been with Barrie for 25 years and married for three.

“I now spend time making memories with Barrie and planning things we can do together – Dave and Deb have given me this chance.

“It’s the little things in life that make such a difference not only to my well-being but to being a wife to Barrie again.

“And this is just the start of the things that I want to do; I now have a whole bucket list of experiences I want to achieve, with riding on the back of a motorbike hopefully up next.”

Alongside the experience, Julia is also fundraising for LOROS, after receiving care from the Hospice.

“LOROS is magical and that’s just the way I feel about it.

“For me, LOROS has helped me deal with the pain, which has given me freedom; a freedom to live my life again.”

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