Bill Malecki

Bill Malecki

Andrew William Malecki (Bill), the eldest of four and only son of Margaret and Andy, was born in Leeds, on 6th December 1961.
Bill's Tribute

Andrew William Malecki (Bill), the eldest of four and only son of Margaret and Andy, was born in Leeds, on 6th December 1961. He was very much his own person, unaffected by fashion and trends but rather more concerned with nature and the world around him which formed the basis of a highly successful career with the National Trust (NT) from gardener at Buckingham Palace to gardens advisor with ultimate responsibility for advice for over 70 National Trust properties and parks.

Outside work Bill immersed himself in music, photography, travel and languages – he was fluent in French. His intellect and enthusiasm for the arts culminated in a BA degree in Combined Studies and later the publication of his book ‘The World in a Garden’ in 2003.

Bill’s charm and wit often entertained and amused those around him, particularly his ability to play on words and recite long verses. Bill settled in Cirencester with his partner of 12 years leading a very happy, healthy and active life until October 2005 when he began to notice strange but initially inconspicuous incidents, such as difficulty tucking his shirt in, the occasional loss of balance and attempting to put both feet into one shoe.

When he noticed a slight drag of his left foot and tingling sensations in his hands his GP referred him to a neurologist on 29th November. An urgent MRI scan confirmed our worst fears – a brain tumour.

He made a good recovery from surgery to biopsy and debulk the tumour, the day after his 44th birthday he was given the news we were all dreading – it was a Glioblastoma Multiforme for which there was no known cure and a poor prognosis of at best up to 2 years remission with a good response to treatment.

We were completely devastated but Bill’s stoic resolve and determination to fight the diagnosis saw us through Christmas and into the New Year, planning to make the most of the short precious time left. At New Year he was walking with a frame but by mid-January we saw a rapid decline in his balance and mobility resulting in falls around the home until he resorted to a wheelchair.

During his six gruelling weeks of radiotherapy he was overcome by tiredness and became increasingly dependent upon others, a situation which he found particularly frustrating, yet despite this he managed to maintain a smile and a joke. He spent the long hours of the day listening to music, he was no longer able to concentrate sufficiently to read, write or involve himself in his other hobbies.

Towards the end of radiotherapy, Bill could barely stand with assistance, his balance was poor even in a chair and communication and participation in social chit chat became increasingly difficult. His loved ones watched on helplessly as the tumour relentlessly ravaged every aspect of Bill’s independence and capacity day by day, hoping and praying for the time when he could see some relief from symptoms … he never did.

At the beginning of March Bill was almost bed bound only able to brush his teeth and feed himself, his nights were virtually sleepless and often disorientated. His partner and close family were close to exhaustion from the round the clock care which he now required. He elected to go into a Sue Ryder hospice for 2 weeks respite care where he immediately settled into the safety of the hospice.

Within 2 weeks he could no longer brush his teeth or feed himself and his only pleasure was his constant stream of visitors and eating – he never lost his appetite and could still appreciate a fine whisky and chocolate. Bill then began to have almost constant fits which despite every effort from the medical team, continued for 10 days. They eventually subsided to occasional fits however they had taken their toll on Bill’s physical and mental state.

We now felt totally helpless and horrified at the realisation that treatment had not helped Bill … he was dying and we were not only being robbed of a wonderful, much loved young man in the prime of his life, but we were even denied the small hope of a few more months of time together.

At 06.15hrs on 13th April 2006, just 4 months after diagnosis, Bill died peacefully. His loss from our lives is immeasurable, but he has left a beautiful daughter, Danielle (aged 5) in whom he will live on and some wonderful memories to cherish and a fine legacy which will no doubt out live us all.

A new species of snowdrop was specially cultivated by a colleague of Bill’s during his illness and named ‘Galanthus Bill Malecki’, the National Trust have planted a Willow tree at Knightshayes in his memory and a grove of Elms, Bill’s favourite, at Fountains Abbey where he requested that his ashes be laid to rest.

Bill knew and was proud of the fact that we intended to fundraise via a coast to coast bike ride for BTRS in the hope that research and treatment in the future may save others from the terrible fate of a brain tumour.

Written by Kath Malecki, Bill’s Sister
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