When anyone gets a new job they imagine talking about it at dinner parties. I did, when I applied for this job. I imagined what it would feel like to tell people I was CEO of a children’s hospice, and I thought about whether it suited me.
Of course, I don’t go to or host dinner parties. I have two young children and a house decorated with crayon and playdough. I don’t have a special set of dinner plates. And it’s not 1973. But people do occasionally ask what I do, outside the school playground or wherever.
When I tell them they are impressed, and so they should be, not by me but by what this wonderful organisation does. However almost without fail people tell me that they could not do what I do, because it would be too sad for them.
But it isn’t! Well, sometimes actually it is sad, terribly sad. But even when it’s sad it’s wonderful in a way, and mostly it’s just wonderful.
When I’m with the children and young people who use our services, they are usually laughing and generally having a good time; or they are benefitting from our therapies, to help them manage some of their challenges. They are learning and developing and making the most of their childhoods and young adulthoods, with their families.
Fun, joy, love, and creating happy memories are the most important things for the families we work with. If a life might be relatively short, you make the most of it, you treasure it. It’s amazing to be part of that.
That’s why our new website looks like it does. That’s why ‘It’s about life’. I would be so happy if people’s automatic reaction to my job title was “Oh, that sounds like fun”. Because then they’d understand what it is actually like most of the time. Maybe we’ll get there by the time I host my first dinner party.