From: Martin Warhurst, chief executive, Martin House, Boston Spa.
EVERYONE has 15 minutes of fame, or so the saying goes, and mine came at the start of this year thanks to a football match and a case of mistaken identity.
Being mistaken on live TV for the new Huddersfield Town manager Jan Siewart – and trending on Twitter with the hashtag #MartinfromWakefield – may have been a surreal experience, but it gave me a golden opportunity to spread the word about the amazing work of Martin House Hospice Care for Children and Young People.
Our vision is that every child or young person has access to palliative care when and where they need it, so we constantly strive to improve the care and services we offer. At Martin House, we aim to help children and their families make the most of their time together to live fulfilling lives, and during 2019 we have organised more activities and trips than ever.
This has included trips to Wetwheels in Whitby, which gives disabled children and young people the chance to enjoy a thrilling boat ride, our third annual mini-music festival, LodgeFest, visits from dance troupes and music groups, and even survival skills sessions for our children and their brothers and sisters.
All this is on top of the day-to-day care and support we provide to babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, providing regular respite stays, emergency care, end of life care and bereavement support for families.
Every year we support more than 420 families, along with a further 150 bereaved families – care which currently costs us more than £9m a year to provide. Nearly all of this is paid for thanks to the support of the public, making it possible for us to continue caring. I’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank-you to everyone who has given their support.
I’m lucky enough to meet many of the families who use Martin House, and they all have powerful stories to tell. One of our mums gave a talk at our open day in October, and her words have stayed with me: “Martin House has taught me that a hospice isn’t about dying, it’s about living; to celebrate and live life to the full, whether we have days, months or years with our children.”
We aim to give many more families the precious gift of time to live to the full, and with that in mind we are shaping our plans to create a hospice for the future, which will bring more facilities and services to our families. I look forward to sharing more details of that in the coming months.