• Fun and games as Demelza open its doors

    by User Not Found | Sep 26, 2016
    More than 500 visitors turned out to support Demelza when the charity threw open the doors of its Kent Hospice to the public.

    Guests had a chance to tour the hospice and see the fantastic facilities which enable children with life-limiting illness to make the most of every day.

    There were appearances from Peppa Pig, Demelza’s mascot Dotty and Kent Fire and Rescue Service, with music from Sittingbourne’s local radio station SFM 106.9 and the UK Paper band.

    The chocolate tombola was a firm favourite, along with stalls selling art and crafts, gifts, cakes and jewellery, as well as Demelza’s new range of Christmas cards for 2016.

    Chief Executive Ryan Campbell said: “It is a highlight of our year to welcome members of the public to Demelza and show them how their donations have enabled us to make such a difference to so many young people and their families.”

    Among guests were octogenarian John Miles from Canterbury who has raised almost £40,000 in the past 15 years for Demelza and Kaitlyn Gunner from Sittingbourne who had 12 inches chopped off her long locks, raising £500 for the charity.

    Kaitlyn donated her hair to the Little Princess Trust, to be made into wigs for children, but gave the sponsorship to Demelza – a charity she has supported previously, by running 5K, making loom bands for sale and donating her toys to the hospices in Sittingbourne and Eltham.

    Kaitlyn said: “I love my long hair and all the pretty hairstyles I can have but wanted to donate my hair so that other girls and boys can have the hairstyle they want.”

    View the gallery here
  • Home from home: New partnership with Bellway

    by User Not Found | Sep 26, 2016
    We were delighted to show representatives from Bellway Homes around Demelza Kent to mark a new partnership.

    The Kent-based company has made an initial donation of £300 and was invited to look around the Sittingbourne hospice to see first hand what difference their support will make.

    Claire Ellis-Waghorn, Acting Director of Voluntary Income, met with Bellway representatives to discuss the services provided at Demelza Kent and described the various roles the hospice plays in many families’ lives across the South Coast.

    “Regardless of whether we have children staying with us for an extended period of time or just visiting for the day, it is important that Demelza feels like a home from home for children and their families.” Claire explained. “The whole site, from its location through to the design of each room and the importance we place on children customising their own spaces, has been carefully considered. Our sponsorships allow us to create these wonderful environments where children can relax and enjoy the normalities of family life, with the benefits of having trained carers on hand and interiors adapted for necessary medical equipment.”

    Julie Heather, Technical and Commercial Secretary for Bellway Kent said: “We were honoured by Claire’s invitation to better understand the services Demelza provides, and were truly touched by the incredible work everyone involved does here.

    “We are sure our donation will be put towards furthering their fantastic facilities, and hope this is the beginning of a long and supportive relationship.
  • From Swale to Humber - it's better by bike

    by User Not Found | Sep 23, 2016
    More than two dozen intrepid cyclists from Knauf UK rode from their factory near Sittingbourne to their depot in Immingham to raise funds for Demelza.

    Paul Chandler and 24 of his colleagues set off from Iwade in Kent on September 9 and rode for four days across varied terrain – and through some wild fluctuations in weather – before arriving at their destination, saddle-sore and weary on September 12 – a huge challenge covering more than two hundred miles.

    But their efforts were rewarded with family, friends and colleagues raising almost £4,000 for the children’s charity – almost four times their initial target of £1,000.

    Paul said: “There are many incredible causes we considered supporting with our Sitingbourne-to-Immingham charity bike ride, but Knauf selected Demelza as we appreciate the important work being done to positively affect people’s lives.”

    Demelza’s Rachel Walker presented the team with a bumper hamper of chocolate goodies to mark their return to Kent and to thank them for the marathon feat.

    She said: “This was a great effort by the team at Knauf and we are very grateful for the donation which will help our work with all those families who have children with life-limiting illness that we support.”
  • Supersize cheque from superstore snapped up!

    by User Not Found | Sep 21, 2016

    We were delighted to visit the Morrisons store in Sittingbourne to receive a cheque from the Morrisons Foundation for £21,738.

    The money will be used to buy a state-of-the-art camera system for our South East London hospice in Eltham, similar to the one we already have at Demelza Kent. 

    The camera system is designed to give parents peace of mind that their children are being monitored and cared for at all times. 

    While not a replacement for personal contact, the systems do mean that staff can get on with other duties in between scheduled visits, knowing that the children are being monitored at all times. 

    The cameras also allow spot checks to be made on children without disturbing them if asleep or resting and are sound sensitive, so if a child calls out or has a vocal seizure the camera system will alert staff in the office.

    The cameras can be turned off for privacy when changing a child, or if the family is present.  Older children can decide if they wish to have the camera on or off.



  • Demelza Ball at Kensington Palace

    by User Not Found | Sep 20, 2016
    Our flagship charity ball, held in the magnificent surroundings of Kensington Palace raised a fantastic £50,000!
    More than 200 guests enjoyed a champagne reception on the terrace of The Orangery at the Palace - home to many past and present members of the British Royal Family - before dining on a delicious three-course meal.
    Demelza’s Chairman Sarah Phillips welcomed guests to the flower-laden Orangery and gave an update on our work.
    Major Donor Manager Sarah Kemsley said: “Our guests really appreciated the surroundings for this year’s ball. For many, it was the first time they had been to Kensington Palace.”
    Auction items included an overnight stay in the officers’ mess, followed by a day training with the Royal Marines at their Commando Training Centre near Exmouth, and a stunning Stevenson Brothers’ rocking horse signed by Joanna Lumley, along with mementoes from her recent Ab Fab film.
    View the gallery here


  • Tesco shoppers urged to vote for sensory garden project

    by User Not Found | Sep 12, 2016
    Demelza has been shortlisted for an award to transform a drab piece of green space into a sensory garden.

    The charity applied for funding through the Tesco Bags of Help awards and was shortlisted, guaranteeing an £8,000 grant.

    But Demelza could potentially win even more as three charities are up against the public vote to win a bigger grant, either £10,000 or £12,000. Shoppers to the three Tesco stores in Sittingbourne and the superstore in Faversham can vote for their favourite charity from 31 October to 13 November.

    The one with the biggest number of votes will be awarded £12,000, the second £10,000 and the third £8,000.

    The green area which is part of the six acre site at Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne is currently unused as it is not fully wheelchair friendly and is in need of a bit of TLC.

    With an £8,000 grant it will be transformed into a sensory garden with a pond, two bridges, themed plants and decorations to create a Chinese water garden. A pagoda already on site will be refurbished and a burner added with incense, linking to the sensory theme. The pond will link to an enchanted forest area where there will be a woodland house, swamp area, toadstools, sensory lighting as well as some seating areas.

    If Demelza is successful in getting the £10,000 grant an entrance and exit arch will be added as well as additional sensory equipment, a bamboo water run, a large gong and a wider variety of grasses which the children will be able to touch, all of which will enhance the multi- sensory environment Demelza is creating.

    A £12,000 grant would see Demelza putting up a partition around the new sensory garden to help the children using the area feel more part of the surroundings, disguising neighbouring storage sheds and allotments. Larger plants could be purchased and the gardens used for music and art therapy. A range of additional musical instruments could also be bought.

    Debbie McSwiney, Care Services Lead – Kent said: “Having a new sensory garden would bring that end of the garden to life and make it so much more exciting and interesting for the children.”
  • Superdraw winner takes to the road!

    by User Not Found | Sep 07, 2016

     A LIFE on the open road beckons for a retired Maidstone postie who scooped £25,000 in Demelza's Superdraw.

    But 57-year old David Stuart nearly missed out on the money after forgetting to tell us that he had moved house!

    When Head of Lottery and Gaming Paul Booth went to Mr Stuart’s house to present the £25,000 cheque to him, he discovered he had moved away last August. A six week search ensued before Paul finally tracked him down to Littlestone-on-Sea – 40 miles away on Romney Marsh.

    Paul said: “I spoke to the neighbours but they didn’t have a forwarding address. I discovered he had worked for the Post Office, so we tried contacting them, but to no avail."

    Mr Stuart pays his lottery membership by direct debit and it was the bank which finally got in touch.

    The Superdraw win means Mr Stuart is now able to indulge his new big love for travel. He has spent his winnings on a shiny new four-berth camper van so he and his partner Maria can tour around Britain and Europe!

    The former postman took early retirement after being seriously injured in a motorcycle accident in November 2010. He spent several weeks in hospital and signed up to the Lotto and Superdraw four years ago at our stand in Maidstone Hospital.

    He said: “I have always felt passionately about the work Demelza does with children and decided my monthly contributions would go some way to help. I never really expected to win anything!"

    Mr Stuart’s mother Myrtle, who still lives in Maidstone, has been a member of the Demelza lottery for many years. The family now plan to spread the word about Demelza’s Lotto when out and about in the van. He said: “I’m so thrilled by the win, I want to give something back.”


  • Beating the drum for Demelza!

    by User Not Found | Sep 07, 2016

    African drumming, Am Dram and rock were part of a day-long feast of music and movement for our TIZ group.

    Entertainers who gave of their time and talents included singer-songwriter Chantal Olivia from Canterbury, Simon Lee on African drums, the Falconwood Rock Choir and Bromley Players. There was also a special sensory music session from TIME - Therapy in Music Experience - and a magician, all taking place at our SEL hospice.

    Organiser Melissa Day said: “Here at Demelza it’s all about life – and making the most of it.

    “All our children love to take part in music activities but this was something geared towards our Transformers group – a chance for them to get together and take part in a great fun day with their pals!"

  • New charity shop opens in Hythe

    by Tessa Paton | Sep 02, 2016

    Local people have pulled out all the stops to support the opening of our new charity shop in Hythe.

    ‘Designer,’ ‘bespoke’ and ‘beautiful’ are just some of the adjectives being used to describe the pre-loved items on offer at the new shop, just a stone’s throw from its previous premises in the High Street.

    Demelza has successfully operated a charity shop in the town for 15 years, as well as a separate, hugely-popular bookstore, a few doors away. But the move to bigger and better new premises – at 138 High Street – means we will have more space, more scope – and more flexibility.

    The double-fronted Georgian shop has been newly-fitted out to accommodate regular donations of clothes and household items but upstairs, two beautiful spacious rooms mean we will be able to run special ‘pop up’ features – such as a Christmas shop, wedding shop, carnival shop  and vintage shop

    Rachel Stead, Shop Operations Manager, said: “We are hugely excited by the move to these lovely new premises and the potential they have to offer. Locals have been beating down the doors while we have been getting ready – not just giving us some fantastically generous donations, but also wanting to buy.”

    Elke, a regular visitor to Demelza, was invited along to cut the ribbon on Thursday September 1 and officially declare the new shop open, after which a few glasses of bubbly were raised to toast the continued success of Hythe’s Demelza shop.

    Shop manager Lynn Madigan, who has worked for Demelza for more than 13 years, will continue to manage the new shop with her faithful team of trusty volunteers, who look forward to welcoming their regular customers – along with some new ones.  The old shop will continue to open three days a week – Friday, Saturday and Monday from 10am-4pm - until November 5 as a clearance store, with lots of items at bargain prices.


  • Fig rolls

    by Tessa Paton | Sep 01, 2016

    You know those NICE biscuits – the plainish ones somewhere between rich tea and malted milk on the boring spectrum? When I was about eight I accidently called them nice biscuits and my nanna explained that they are pronounced neece, which is French. This is because if you walked into a shop and asked the shopkeeper for nice biscuits he’d bring you every biscuit in the shop before you could stop him which would be a big inconvenience for all concerned. It was an important lesson which I’ve always remembered. 

    At about the same time though, shops changed overnight from being places where you asked a man in brown overalls for what you wanted, “May I have a Fray Bentos pie, two pounds of potatoes, a quarter of Army and Navy sweets, half a pound of faggots and some neece biscuits please?”, to places where you got to pick stuff off shelves for yourself; so I never actually got to use that lesson.

    Anyway, you know that NICE Guidance on End of Life Care for Children, Infants and Young People? A draft version of it has just been out for consultation and we’re expecting a final version in December this year. NICE stands for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (I know it doesn’t really, because that would be NIHCE, but how that came about is a very dull story indeed). It’s the quasi-governmental body which produces guidance on how the NHS and everyone else should deliver health services. 

    We’ve never had guidance before on how to deliver any aspect of palliative care for children and young people. This is a problem – not necessarily because we might be doing it wrong, or even because what care you get might depend on where you live.  It’s a problem because without properly put together guidance, care might not be as connected as it should be to the evidence base. The process of producing guidance, in short, is to look at what works best, and say that what works best is what should be done.

    The draft version of the guidance, which covers hospital and community NHS care as well as hospice care, states amongst other things that access to emotional and psychological support should be available for all; that bereavement support should be offered to all; and that everyone should be supported to have choice about place of death, including at home. This is far more than many children, young people and families get at present. It would be extraordinary and marvellous, and the impact would be transformational. It would require better and more joined together systems. And it would require a lot more money.

    I don’t know if that last point might be a problem. But either way, we might either be getting much more and better support for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and their families; or at least we might have verification of the evidence-base so that we can campaign better for it.

  • It's time to go dotty for Demelza!

    by User Not Found | Aug 31, 2016

    As the dark nights start to draw in, why not add a splash of colour to your life by planning something bright and colourful - and ‘Go Dotty’ for Demelza?

    Our staff are going dotty, our shops are going dotty - so why don't you join us by wearing dots and raising lots?

    #TeamDemelza want to see everyone literally ‘Go Dotty’ during the month of September - it can be something as simple as wearing a spotty tie, socks or a scarf and making a donation to Demelza.

    Or you could really push the boat out and organise a Dotty tea party, cake sale, guess the number of sweets in a dotty jar – or sign up for one of Demelza’s many fabulous fundraising events!

    We have dotty collecting tins, buckets and envelopes to make it easy for your office, friends or family to collect loose change - just make sure you have fun fundraising!

    Contact the fundraising team on 01795 845266 if you need more ideas!


  • Get on your bike for Demelza!

    by User Not Found | Aug 30, 2016
     IF you’re feeling sporty and inspired following a summer of Olympic activity, Demelza is giving you the chance to get a slice of the action.

    #TeamDemelza has secured a number of charity places in this year’s London to Brighton Cycle Ride and is now looking for keen cyclists to saddle up and get on their bikes for the 54-mile challenge.

    More than 3,000 people are expected to take part in this year’s ride, which takes place on Sunday September 11. Starting out from Clapham Common, it’s a chance for cyclists to hit the open road and blaze a trail through the Surrey countryside to the seaside in East Sussex!

    Last year’s riders raised almost £5,000 for Demelza and events co-ordinator Emma Cox is hoping to top that target this time around.

    She said: “We are so grateful the 38 people who chose to take part in the ride last year, many of whom have signed up again.  However, we hope to welcome some new faces on board!  Our riders come from all walks of life and have different reasons for taking on the challenge.”

    Emma said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to spread awareness through the area where we provide care.”

    Registration is £40 and entrants need to pledge to raise at least £100 in sponsorship. All participants will receive a free Demelza T-shirt.

    Details can be found at: https://www.demelza.org.uk/support-us/challenges-and-events/detail/london-to-brighton-cycle.

  • Archbishop of Canterbury visits Demelza Kent

    by User Not Found | Aug 24, 2016

    The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Reverend Justin Welby, was full of praise for the love and care shown by Demelza when he visited our Kent Hospice at Sittingbourne.

    The Archbishop, who is a Patron of the charity, toured the Hospice along with his wife, Mrs Caroline Welby, on what proved to be one of the hottest days of the year. The couple were shown around by eight-year old Malachi, who impressed the Archbishop no end with his knowledge of the Hospice and its facilities - and his adeptness at getting around, despite being blind.

    The Archbishop took tea in our magnificent gardens, cared for largely by volunteers, where he met some of our families, volunteers and trustees, while listening to some of our children enjoying music therapy. He also explored our soft play centre and sensory room!

    The Archbishop, who was welcomed by Chief Executive Ryan Campbell, chair of the Board of Trustees Sarah Phillips and Derek Phillips, our founder President, said: "This place is a tardis! It isn’t large on the outside but inside there is a whole country of wonderful care and love. I have been blown away by it.”

    He was later presented with a paper dove, made by children in their art therapy, which bore all of their thumbprints.

    We were also pleased to welcome Reverends Mike and Liz Resch, from Holy Trinity Church, Sittingbourne, among our other many supporters.

    Check out our image gallery for more pictures from the visit.





  • Monkey moves make money for #TeamDemelza

    by User Not Found | Aug 22, 2016

    Internet prankster Lee Marshall – also known as Discoboy – has released a charity single to raise funds for the vital work of Demelza.

    Lee, from Kent, who has a following of more than 185,000 fans on Facebook, has released a You Tube video to coincide with the release of his dance hit single ‘The Monkey Move’ – a dance move and song for children.

    Lee, who created the Monkey Move in 2015, hopes the single will be an internet sensation and raise loads of money for Demelza, says: “There has not been a single like this since the Cha Cha Slide and Macarena.

    “The song features a simple but entertaining dance move that young children will love.”
    The social media celebrity is best known for springing street pranks on unsuspecting members of the public but said: “This is something for the kids and done in order to help raise money for the seriously ill children in Demelza’s care.”

    Lee and his team have already been spotted on the streets of Maidstone and Canterbury rehearsing the catchy dance routine.

    He is hoping to get radio and TV support for the single and he hopes the video will go viral.   All proceeds will go to Demelza.

    The single is now on sale from all digital stores including iTUNES, Amazon MP3, Spotify and Apple Music.
  • Fun in the sun for families

    by User Not Found | Aug 15, 2016
    Fifteen families from across South East London enjoyed fun in the sun at Demelza's annual fun day in Eltham.

    Children who receive care from the hospice, along with their parents and brothers and sisters, had the chance to get up close and personal with TV favourites Peppa Pig and Bob the Builder, as well as officers from London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police, plus the region’s Search and Rescue dogs.

    A whole host of events was organised by the charity’s staff and volunteers for the 85 visitors, including the ever-popular bouncy castle, hook-a-duck, a tombola, raffle and facepainting.

    Giggle doctor Dr Geehee from Theodora Children’s Charity also provided entertainment at the event on Saturday (13 August).

    Ann Fagg, Care Services Lead at SEL said: “It’s a chance for families who use our services to get together and enjoy the kind of fun and games other people might take for granted.”
  • Over 1,000 people have bubbly fun for #TeamDemelza

    by User Not Found | Aug 08, 2016
    Over 1,100 runners enjoyed fast and furious, frothy fun when they ran through walls of 4ft bubbles on Sunday (7 August).

    The sun shone on young and old as men, women and children charged through the multi-coloured foam bubbles in Central Park, to raise thousands of pounds for Demelza.

    The Mayor of Dartford, Councillor John Burrell, and the Mayoress, Mrs Eija Burrell, turned out to wish the runners well as they started their foam-filled adventure.

    Joining in the fun were families and friends of Demelza, Star Wars Stormtroopers from the UK Garrison, a number of Disney Princesses and Demelza’s mascot, Dotty. There was live entertainment throughout the day, a photobooth for people to take selfies, a bumper bouncy castle and a Spider Mountain to keep the little ones entertained. Everyone taking part received a Bubble Rush t-shirt, medal and goody bag.

    More than £18,500 had been raised prior to the run and Demelza hope to top the £30,000 raised last year. A similar event in Brighton last month has raised £36,000, with cash still coming in.

    Head of Events, Emma Middleton, said: “The event sums up the ethos of Demelza – fun, laughter and making memories. It was so amazing to see so many people embrace Bubble Rush. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported this including our supporters and sponsors Dartford Borough Council, Dartford Harriers Athletic Club, McDonalds, Dartford Football Club and Practical Car & Van Rental, Dartford.”

    Check out our image gallery for more pictures from Bubble Rush.
  • Here come the ghouls .....

    by User Not Found | Aug 05, 2016
    Demelza is seeking help from daredevil dramatists and dancers in giving local folk the fright of their lives.

    Running Scared, which takes place in Mote Park, Maidstone, on the weekend before Halloween, is one of this year’s major fundraisers for the children's charity.

    The event, from 8-10pm, on Friday 28 October, will see hundreds of sponsored participants running through UV paint, foam, bubbles and assorted slimy substances – getting a few spooky surprises along the way!

    Ghostly figures, menacing monsters and bloodcurdling vampires will leap out of the shadows to give entrants a real fright night experience – and you've got the chance to be among them!

    Demelza is now gathering its group of ghouls and if you fancy your chances at scaring your friends, family – and complete strangers - Demelza’s fundraising team would like to hear from you.

    Events co-ordinator Gemma Murray said: “We are looking for groups of amateur actors who are willing to put on their scariest outfits and make up, as well as dance groups who can put on a ‘thriller style’ routine – or something equally spine-tingling.”

    Applicants should contact Gemma with their ideas on 01795 845183, email gemma.murray@demelza.org.uk

    Tickets are already being snapped up for Running Scared and for the earlier family-friendly Monster Dash which takes place from 5-7pm and is open to all ages.

    Entrants are encouraged to wear their scariest Halloween costumes and will receive a Running Scared glow-in-the-dark headband on arrival.

    All sponsorship from the run will go towards the invaluable work of Demelza and runners who raise more than £100 in sponsorship can have their entry fee refunded.

    The 5k run is recommended for over 16s only, although those 15 and under will be permitted, if accompanied by an adult at all times.

    Beware - the Terror Zone is not for the faint-hearted! 
  • Lots of fun for families at Teddy Bears' Picnic

    by Tessa Paton | Aug 02, 2016
    The weather may have been drizzly but it didn’t dampen spirits at our Teddy Bears' Picnic.

    Thanks to funding by Medway Commissioners, the care team at our Sittingbourne hospice Demelza Kent hosted a fun-filled teddy bear-themed day for families on Tuesday 2 August.

    Children and siblings decorated maracas, painted teddy bears, went on a bear hunt, sang along with musician Andrew Tye from charity Music in Hospitals and watched Paddington Bear with their furry friends.

    Debbie McSwiney, Care Services Lead at Demelza Kent, said: “The Teddy Bears’ Picnic was absolutely wonderful and the families really enjoyed all of the activities. We’re very grateful to Medway Commissioners for making this special day possible.” 
  • Walk this Way participants' final total

    by User Not Found | Aug 01, 2016
    Epic walkers have helped raised over £30,000 for Demelza.

    Seventy six people took on a challenge and a half back in May when they walked 50k between Demelza’s hospices in Rook Lane, Bobbing and Wensley Close, Eltham or vice versa.

    As well as the entry fee many participants were sponsored for this feat which took between 9 hours and 12 and a half hours to complete.

    We have been busy counting up the money and we are delighted to announce that Walk this Way 50k raised a staggering £34,336.43 with a target of £35,000.

    If you have been inspired by this please do consider joining us for Walk this Way 2017. Full details will be available online nearer the time so watch this space!
  • New extension to pool thanks to legacy

    by User Not Found | Jul 29, 2016
    The hydroptherapy pool at Demelza has undergone an extension to add more changing facilities and a new viewing area.

    Since the pool opened at Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne in 2012 it has been a popular facility enabling some families to swim together for the first time or children who cannot walk the chance to feel mobile.

    And families don’t need to be staying at the Demelza in order to use the pool as our popular Sunday sessions enable them to come and book a slot.

    But demand for these sessions was putting pressure on the changing facilities and the hoist kept jamming so extra space was needed.

    Thanks to a legacy from the Stone family we now have a new hoist and extra track, two new shower cubicles and an extra bigger changing area plus a storage area for wheelchairs and buggies, new lockers and a viewing area.