Getting to Know... Vanessa Howden-Smith
Vanessa is The Hospice of St Francis’ In Memoriam Fundraising Manager, helping people put on an event or set up a tribute fund in memory of someone special. She lives in Warners End with her son and two dogs Olly and Rustie.
What is your favourite food?
A traditional roast dinner. You can’t beat it.
What’s the most played song on your iPod?
I haven’t got an ipod, but the song that keeps playing in my head is All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor.
“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later” – Richard Branson
Favourite thing to do to relax?
Walk the dogs or ride my motorbike.
What is the one Thing you hate the most?
Saying ‘no’ – which is why that rarely happens I guess!
If you could have 5 famous people for dinner – past or present – who would you pick and why?
Rowena Cade who built the Minack Theatre, Porthcurno, by hand in 1932. Dame Cicely Saunders known for her role in the birth of the hospice movement and raising awareness of the importance of palliative care. Nelson Mandela. The Dalai Lama. Mother Teresa. Oh, and George Clooney – do I have to explain why?
If you knew the world was ending in 2014, what would you do differently?
I’d do everything on my wish list – visit Machu Picchu, do a wing walk, ride Route 66, take my son wherever he wanted to go in the world and say something nice to everyone I know.
If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be and why?
Seeing the first brick was laid for the Hospice in Spring Garden Lane 7 years ago. The atmosphere must have been amazing filled with great achievement and promise for the future.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Farming Secretary (keeping the books for farmers). However, I had so many animal-related allergies I was advised to give up my place at agricultural college. I then grew out of my allergies!
What was the last film you watched?
Paddington! I might be growing older, but I don’t have to grow up!
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Cared for my parents at home at the end of their lives. It’s made me really value the importance of caring for people at the end of their lives.
What’s the best or worst gift you have ever given or received?
A large group of us have a Christmas party in June! We spend no more than £5 on a lucky dip Secret Santa pressie but it has to be as tacky as possible. I bought an orange and yellow gnome about three years ago, which unfortunately I received back last year. He will be going back into the sack this year!
How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who cared, and as a mother who brought up a wonderful young man.
What is your favourite thing to do or place to visit in Dacorum?
Since discovering them, our Hospice gardens, especially the woodland walk around the perimeter of the grounds. It’s so tranquil looking out over towards Ashridge Common. A beautiful place to work, and the well-kept gardens are a bonus to the care the patients here at the Hospice receive.