'˜It's pretty much my second home' - Courtney's praise for Martin House Children's Hospice

For teenager Courtney Jackson, of Halifax, Martin House Hospice is like a second home. She has been visiting every few months, for respite care, for 17 years.

Images of Courtney for Martin House Hospice

The 19-year-old, studying Youth and Community Work at Huddersfield University, has a rare condition called spinal muscular atrophy.

Since the age of three she has used a wheelchair and the help - and freedom - she gets at Martin House is wonderful, she says.

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“It’s like a little holiday away from home,” she said. “It is a really nice place - it’s fun. We get to do a lot. There’s trips, cinema or shopping. It’s awesome.

“Quite often when I’m here I’ll ask if we can go to the White Rose Shopping Centre, and I always tell people about the gardens, and playing hide and seek.”

Having been visiting Martin House for so long, Miss Jackson has seen the many changes that have taken place over the years. The building of the lodge, installation of wheelchair swings.

Martin House, which costs £6m a year to run, is almost entirely reliant on voluntary donations to keep it open.

A number of events are held every year to fundraise - from the Colour Run in July to the Dragon Boat Race, Santa fun runs and Christmas fairs.

At university, Miss Jackson is keen to promote the hospice and fundraise, and she said she can see the benefits it brings in respite care to families like hers.

“Over the years I’ve been able to see the changes. Any donations that go to Martin House don’t go to waste. Every little does help.

“I’ve been coming here for almost 17 years - it’s pretty much my second home.

“When I first came, my mum would stay with my siblings. I remember the first time I stayed on my own, when I was about eight, my mum had to go because my brother was homesick. It was fun - no matter what we do, it’s exciting.

“University can be quite stessful, when I come here it’s a break. It offers freedom, if I had to choose one word that would be it. And not just for me, for my family as well.

“If we hadn’t had this, mum would have had a lot of stress. She has three other children to look after as well. It’s nice for her to get that break.

“For the first time in a long time, she’s been able to go away with her mother this week. They need the family time as well. Martin House offers that extra support we wouldn’t get elsewhere.”