This is the heartbreaking moment an 14-year-old singer sung to his dying mother for the final time from the garden of her hospice.
Billy Devine, from Chesterfield, stood on the grass outside with his friend Ellie Scott to perform a duet of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s hit single Shallow, as well as a song he had written himself.
Jane, 51, a self-employed carer who had always loved to hear him sing, had tears in her eyes while she watched the touching performance.
The mother-of-three died a few days later from incurable breast cancer, after battling the disease for a year.
Ashgate Hospice, where Jane was cared for, said Billy performed outside so that he could use the sound equipment and because he was with a friend. But afterwards he was immediately allowed back inside to hug his mother, and for her to congratulate him.
Many hospices have struggled to allow visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic due to Government regulations, prompting the country’d leading end of life charity Marie Curie to warn that they had ‘fallen to the cracks’.
But regular Covid-19 testing will be rolled out to hospice staff ‘once all the logistics are in place’ in the coming weeks, NHS Test and Trace said.
Billy Devine, from Chesterfield, and his friend Ellie Scott perform a duet for his dying mother Jane, 51, outside her care home in September. She died a few days later
Billy, now 14, pictured with his mother
The three-minute performance saw a smiling Billy and his friend sway gently as they performed the hit single released in 2018.
Other residents at the home came to their windows and stood in the garden to watch the two teenagers.
Billy said: ‘I love to sing, and my mum always loved to hear me sing, so I thought it would be the perfect surprise to sing her favourite song whilst she was staying at Ashgate.
‘It felt like the performance of a lifetime.
‘I’ll never forget the look on my mum’s face as she watched from the window of her room. Just remembering it now gives me goosebumps.’
Hayley Wardle, the director of quality and patient care at Ashgate Hospice, said Jane was ‘really emotional’ during the performance.
‘She was completely taken aback,’ Ms Wardle told MailOnline. ‘She always loved to hear him sing.’
‘Billy had written the song earlier and the plan was to play it to her at Christmas – we have an Ashgate choir here – as a surprise.
‘But then her condition began to deteriorate and we knew she wouldn’t make it.’
Billy was allowed to visit his mother because she was receiving end of life care at the hospice, meaning she was allowed visitors from her family.
Two visitors were allowed to be in her room at a time, Ms Wardle said, and they were asked to enter through the French doors of her room leading onto the patio so they didn’t need to walk through the home and potentially put other residents at risk.
Ms Wardle said: ‘We never stopped visiting completely. Everyone is allowed a named visitor.’
She said the home has not had any outbreaks of coronavirus, and staff had managed to balance the risk with patient safety.
Billy, aged three, with his mother Jane. The hospice said they were allowed to hug and spend their final days together
Paying tribute to his mother, Billy said: ‘Mum was such a caring person, she spent most of her life looking after other people and spending time with her family.
‘She was such a strong and positive person to be around, even after she was diagnosed, she was determined to face the cancer head-on.
‘Unfortunately, no matter how hard mum fought, this wasn’t going to be a battle she could win.
‘That’s when she went to Ashgate Hospice and I can honestly say that the care she received was amazing, it is a very welcoming and comforting place, not just for mum but for the whole family.
‘I am incredibly grateful to the hospice for helping us organise this special moment, truly one none of us will ever forget.’
The hospice said Billy was allowed to visit his mother and share a hug in her final days and hours.
Billy has raised more than £4,000 for the hospice through coffee mornings, bingo nights and head shaving.
He is backing their Winter Crisis Appeal, launched to plug the £2.4million gap in revenues triggered by the pandemic.
Marie Curie, the country’s leading end of life charity, said a lack of Covid-19 testing risks ‘paralysing’ the sector.
It is also calling for the families of patients in hospices to be tested every week so that they can visit their loved ones and provide support.
Visitors were banned from hospices during the first wave of the virus and families have spoken of the heartbreak of leaving their relatives to die alone or being able to see them only by waving through a window.
Marie Curie wrote to NHS England warning that hospices were yet again ‘falling through the cracks’ when it comes to testing.
Dr Sarah Holmes from the charity said: ‘Every day that passes without a regular weekly testing regime in place for hospice staff puts the most vulnerable in society at risk. The lack of testing could also end up paralysing not only Marie Curie hospices but other independent providers too.’
NHS Test and Trace has said Covid-19 tests will be rolled out for hospices once all the logistics are put in place. They will be offered on a ‘regular’ basis.