• 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.
  • All aboard for village fete at sea

    by User Not Found | Jul 29, 2016
    Sailors on board HMS Kent enjoyed a taste of home when they organised a traditional village fete at sea.

    Entertainment included whack-a-mole, apple bobbing, darts, coffee mat flicking, a bbq and an obstacle course.

    HMS Kent are long-term supporters of Demelza and the fete raised more than £300. Great work!

    If this has inspired you find out how to fundraise for #TeamDemelza here
  • Demelza welcomes new Trustee and Area Fundraiser

    by Tessa Paton | Jul 20, 2016
    Demelza is welcoming two new additions to the team to help raise awareness of our care across South East London.

    Kate Stephens, a lawyer from Dulwich, joins Demelza as a Trustee and will be working alongside other members of the Board to provide oversight in all areas of the running of the charity.

    Mum-of-two Kate, who has expertise in litigation, insurance law, compliance and governance, said: “Demelza is a fantastic charity that does such valuable work for families who really need their help, not only at its two hospice sites but also in the community.

    “It’s a wonderful opportunity to work with an exceptional Board of Trustees and team. I hope to bring my legal and governance skills to the Board and also working with the team to raise awareness of Demelza in South East London where I live.”

    Jennifer Heritage is the latest recruit to join the fundraising team at Demelza and will be supporting individuals, groups, clubs and businesses in Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth, Lewisham Southwark and Croydon to help raise vital funds for the charity.

    The 30-year-old Area Fundraiser is based at our Eltham hospice Demelza SEL - where children up to the age of 19 come for expert, one-to-one care. This includes respite, symptom management and end of life care, as well as life-enhancing therapies and facilities, such as a sensory and music therapy room.

    Jenny, who also supports a team of Demelza volunteers and is a Girl Guiding leader in her spare time, said: “As a charity, not part of the NHS, Demelza is reliant on the generosity of the local community to be able to continue providing vital care to families. It’s an absolute pleasure to be supporting these remarkable people who do so much for their local children’s hospice.”

    To join Jenny's troop of fundraisers please email or call 020 8859 9804.
  • Clay shoot hits the spot

    by User Not Found | Jul 18, 2016
    Detling was the venue for our recent clay shoot attended by one hundred guests.

    The shooting was highly competitive with some experienced clay shooters participating but the overall winning team was Andrew Hooker’s who won a magnum of champagne for each in his team.

    The shoot was followed by a champagne reception and an auction.

    Demelza’s Major Donor Manager Sarah Kemsley said: “We have been really touched by the level of support we have received for staging this event, from those who are involved with Detling shoot preparing the ground and all those who generously donated to the auction.”
  • Families enjoy fun day and music festival

    by User Not Found | Jul 15, 2016
    Children and families who use Demelza had a chance to socialise together at two events at the weekend.

    Around 150 people came to Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne on Saturday (9 July) for a family fun day which included face painting, arts and crafts, music, dancing, African drumming, raffles and stalls. Children also had a chance to pet the therapy ponies and play boccia. Darth Vader and one of his Storm Troopers also joined in the fun.

    On Saturday evening the hospice was transformed into a festival site for the older children (15-19) who come to Demelza to enjoy a full programme of live music, food, mocktails, festival games and a casino.

    Jonathan Rees Transition Team Leader said: “This was the third music festival we have held at Demelza and a big thanks to everyone for helping to make this event happen from the artists who performed to those who provided sound and lighting. For a lot of our young people this might be their only chance to experience a music festival and it’s great that we are able to enable them to do something that other people of their own age are doing and to create some special memories.”
  • It's all about the bubbles

    by User Not Found | Jul 11, 2016
    Watch the video from #TeamCookie about their experience of Bubble Rush and read more about the event below:

    Over 1,500 runners took part in an event with a difference on Saturday (9 July) when they entered Demelza’s Bubble Rush event.

    Preston Park in Brighton was the venue for the event which saw more than 1,500 people, including the Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Councillor Pete West, running through walls of 4ft coloured bubbles.

    Demelza child Rhys, aged two, whose family have respite care in their own home and come to Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne also took part in the run along with mum Naomi.

    A few children taking part were celebrating their birthdays on Saturday so the crowd sang a very special Happy Birthday to them and Oscar, who turned seven, started some of the runners off.

    There was live entertainment throughout the day, a photobooth for people to get selfies and silly photographs and everyone taking part received a t-shirt, medal and goody bag.

    Around £30,000 has been raised already but it is hoped that the final figure will be £50,000.

    Emma Middleton, Head of Events at Demelza, 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 McDonald’s in London Road which provided some of the water.”

    Click here to see some of the photos from the event.
  • Demelza opens first children's shop in Sheerness

    by User Not Found | Jun 30, 2016
    Demelza has opened its first dedicated children’s and baby shop with everything you might need for your young family but at an affordable price.

    The shop at 86 High Street, Sheerness was officially opened on Thursday 30 June at 10.30am with one mum queueing from 7.30am to bag a bargain.

    Heidi Moore, mum to Robert nine months, explained what had prompted her early start: “There’s lots of good stuff in there and it’s really cheap. It’s really good because it’s so cheap especially for mums that struggle.”

    The ribbon was cut by Dan Zaccheo, Deputy Head at Meadowfields School which has had past and present pupils use Demelza.

    Claire Jordan, Demelza’s Head of Trading Company Development said: “Demelza is about life. We provide compassionate and expert care for babies, children and young people when they need it most and we support their families. I can’t think of a better way for the retail charity shops to align with our fantastic charity than by opening a shop dedicated to children. By donating, buying and supporting you’re directly helping care for the children that we serve.”

    Shop Manager Jane Noble, who previously managed the co-op in Sheerness, said: “I think it’s fantastic because there is nothing like it in Sheerness High Street and I really think it will have a huge impact.”

    Demelza Area Manager Robin Watson added: “We’ve got a really good volunteer team already. The local community really supported us even before we opened the doors.”

    The shop will be selling clothes, toys, books, prams, cots, moses baskets and high chairs and is open Monday to Friday 9am to 4.30pm. It is Demelza’s second shop in Sheerness and the charity’s 24th store.

  • Obsessions

    by Tessa Paton | Jun 30, 2016

    The world feels a bit scary just now. It’s unusual for everyone in the country to be anxious about the same thing all at the same time, and it’s distracting, and upsetting.

    Whenever we think about what life is going to be like post-Brexit, whether you wanted it or didn’t want it, you have to use the word ‘probably’. It’ll probably be all right. It probably will be, but the problem with probably is that it’s uncertain, and uncertainty itself is a source of fear, because it stops you making plans to deal with the thing you’re actually scared of.

    I like trees, more than most people, even more than people who quite like trees. I feel a little out of kilter if I’m near a tree and don’t know what kind it is. It’s one of the big things about me, everyone knows I like trees.  If I’m in a boring meeting I might look like I’m concentrating, but I might just be thinking about trees. Not many people get it, but there you go. 

    I know the trees at our Kent hospice where my office is very well now. I know their cycles, which of course are unaffected by things like referendums. 

    Near the oasthouse there is a young tulip tree. That’s very exciting because eventually it will have the most beautiful flowers (which are like tulips) but tulip trees don’t flower until they are about 15 years old, and I don’t know how old ours is. By the look of it its first flower will be some time yet, after the next elections and Brexit negotiations have been and gone and we’ll know more about where we are (probably). The tulip tree will flower regardless, in its own time, living its own life. 

    Trees aren’t permanent though, they grow and change and die, and things can happen to them like diseases or us chopping them down. But they do what they do and they feel no fear.

    Family is a bit like that. Families grow and change and things happen. They do feel fear, but that doesn’t stop them doing what they do, and doesn’t stop them blossoming.  From my office I watch families park up (by the plum trees) and as I’ve gotten to recognise many of them, I notice them changing and the children growing. 

    Trusting in the more solid things that truly protect and support us, especially family, is the way to go when the more transient and chaotic stuff like politics and economics threatens to, or actually does, impact on our lives. Maybe Demelza is a bit like that as well.  We change and grow and have better and harder times, but we’re here, doing what we do.  We’re especially here to keep families strong and supported, for their children and for each other.

    So do you see the thing about trees now? Oh, you still think it’s weird.

  • Demelza celebrates prestigious digital award

    by Stuart Hubbard | Jun 24, 2016
    Demelza is celebrating after winning a prestigious digital award for our new website which launched in January.
    We were victorious in the Website: School, Education or Charity category at the Kent Digital Awards, beating off competition from Bedes Summer School, CXK, Kent College Pembury, Manor House Forest School, Parenta and the RNLI Shannon Appeal. 
    The awards took place at the Brands Hatch Motorsport Vision Centre in Longfield on Thursday (23 June) with former BBC presenter Robin Bailey hosting.
    Judges said: "The positive work of this organisation is reflected in a striking tasteful way, by a website that educates and inspires in equal measure. The frequent and engaging blog updates, further add to a superb user experience."
    Our dream to create a vibrant new website with a focus on striking images of the families we support was realised thanks to the help of web developers Itineris and 35-year-old volunteer Simon Asselman.
    Father-of-two Simon from Kings Hill, who generously gives his time one day a week, said: “I’m extremely proud to be a volunteer at Demelza. Having been involved in the design and delivery of the new web site from the start, it’s wonderful to see the efforts of our project team be formally recognised with a Gold Award.
    “Recognition like this really inspires me to want to do more and I’m eager to see what we will achieve next together.”
    Visitors to the demelza.org.uk homepage can also view a video called #ItsAboutLife, which gives an insight into the vital care Demelza provides to seriously ill babies, children and young people and their families across Kent, East Sussex and South East London.
    Tessa Paton, Head of Marketing & Communications at Demelza said: “We are absolutely delighted to have won in the ‘Website: School, Education or Charity’ category. Our primary aim was to create a user friendly site and to let emotive images of our care do the talking.
    “We also wanted to challenge the misconception that children’s hospice care is consumed with sadness and bring our stakeholders a new site that is vibrant, colourful and captures the essence of what Demelza is all about – Life.”
  • Seven-year-old's fundraising is wheeley good

    by User Not Found | Jun 20, 2016
    A seven-year-old boy raised over £400 in a duathlon organised by his dad.

    Jack Santer, from Whitstable, cycled and ran 11.8k as part of the route which took in the Promenade in Herne Bay and Reculver.

    It wasn’t part of an organised event, just a route his dad Trevor devised. Jack raised £440 for Demelza Hospice Care for Children.

    Trevor said: "The reason we chose Demelza was to raise money for less fortunate children local to us and to try and make a difference. Jack realises how fortunate he is and now appreciates this more than ever after getting a taste for the fantastic work done by the charity."
  • Star wars actor makes dreams come true for Demelza children

    by Tessa Paton | Jun 14, 2016
    Star Wars actor John Boyega brought smiles to seriously ill children when he visited Demelza, his local children’s hospice.

    The Bafta-winning star from Peckham, who plays Finn in the popular film franchise, spent time with families cared for Demelza Hospice Care for Children on Monday 13 June.

    John, 24, who appeared alongside Harrison Ford in The Force Awakens, visited our Eltham hospice Demelza SEL, where children up to the age of 19 come for respite, symptom management and end of life care.

    Mr Boyega “couldn’t wait” to make dreams come true for children like seven-year-old Lamin, also from Peckham, who has endured over 20 operations in his short life and has a tracheostomy to help him breath. 

    After being treated to a special Star Wars party in his honour, John said: “I’d heard about the great work of Demelza so couldn’t wait to visit and help make some dreams come true. I was blown away by the children and the nurses who do such a fantastic job of caring for them. 

    “South East London is extremely fortunate to have such an amazing charity on its doorstep, ensuring families get the support they need. I just hope people will continue to do what they can to support this great cause.”

    Many of the children dressed as Star Wars characters for the occasion including four-year-old ‘stormtrooper’ Eshan, who has a rare form of rickets, and his sister Mysha, six, who came as Rey. 

    Their mum Shara from Hither Green said: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Eshan so excited -it’s made his day. It’s been a very tough year so to see him so happy is absolutely wonderful.

    "The support we’ve had from Demelza has been life-changing and days like today make our time here even more special.”

    A smile also beamed from eight-year-old Nicholas from Sidcup who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe muscle-wasting condition.

    His mum Abigail Smith said: “This was our first visit to Demelza so I didn’t know what to expect but it’s been wonderful. Finn is Nicholas’ favourite character in the new Star Wars film and you could see how just happy he was to meet him.”

    As a charity, not part of the NHS, Demelza is reliant on community generosity to be able to continue providing care to hundreds of families across South East London, Kent and East Sussex who desperately need support.

    Care Coordinator Fiona Ashmore said: “We’re so grateful to John for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit Demelza. He interacted beautifully with the children and families, playing games, cracking jokes and most importantly raising so many smiles.

    “The work we do can be very sad at times but most of the time this is what it’s all about – making precious, happy and memorable moments, for the families we care for.”
  • Photographer works with children to create unique artwork

    by User Not Found | Jun 13, 2016
    An international photographer has been working with children at Demelza to create a unique piece of art for the reception area.

    Jan von Holleben spent three days photographing babies and young people at Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne.

    Over 20 children aged from eight months to 17 years took part in the project. Each young person chose something they would like to be from a dragon to superman or a policeman.

    The finished artwork entailed Playground Paradise shows the children with a superimposed addition such as wings or a platform of some sort.

    Demelza Art Therapist Josie Mahoney said: “This represents our motto `it’s about life’. It’s about children being free, away from their wheelchairs. The image shows them having fun and enjoying life.

    “It gives families the opportunity to have photographs they would not normally have. And for our children who are disabled a chance to engage in an activity they wouldn’t normally do.”
  • Runners take on 5k or 10k for #TeamDemelza

    by User Not Found | Jun 13, 2016
    Nearly three hundred supporters braved the rain to take part in the Demelza Run on Sunday (12 June).

    Two hundred and seventy two runners took part in the 2.5k, 5k or 10k course which was held for the first time in the grounds of Groombridge Place near Tunbridge Wells.

    The charity’s mascot, Dotty was there to spur competitors on and to pose for selfies and drum band Bloco fogo entertained the runners and supporters before the race.

    The 10k race was started by Demelza child Millie De’ Vere who also won the 2.5k wheelchair accessible award.

    The winner of the 10k race was Aaron Wright who finished in a time of 43 minutes 25 seconds with Mark Weller coming second.

    Sally Norris was the first female over the finish line.

    The 5k race was won by Simon Parrin in a time of 19 minutes and 42 seconds and Leigh Mitchell came second.

    Karen Ponte was the first female over the line and Daniel Rowe was the fastest under 16 runner.

    The prize for the best costume went to Jane Lowe, part of the Kent Police training school team, who ran the 10k dressed as a smurf.

    Gemma Murray, Demelza's Events Coordinator, said: “A special thank you to Groombridge Place for hosting the Demelza Run for the first time this year.

    “Thank you so much to everyone who braved the damp conditions to take on the challenging course at Groombridge in the name of #TeamDemelza We hope to see you again next year as your support really does help us care for those who may not live a long life to live a full life.”

    Click here to see pictures from the run.
  • Right royal occasion at Eastbourne Carnival

    by User Not Found | Jun 13, 2016
    The Demelza Community team got glammed up for their entry in this year's Eastbourne Carnival.

    The Demelza float had a vintage tea party theme to mark the Queen's birthday, decorated with cards made by children helped by the hospice at home care service as well as a balloon model of the charity's mascot made by Over the Moon party shop in Pevensey Bay.
  • Bubble Rush is fun for all the family

    by User Not Found | Jun 06, 2016
    Runners will be able to take part in an event with a difference next month – exercising while going through coloured foam.

    Demelza is holding a Bubble Rush fun run at Preston Park in Brighton on Saturday 9 July from 11am to 3pm.

    Participants will get the chance to run through walls of 4ft bubbles along the route which is child friendly.

    There will be live entertainment throughout the day and everyone taking part will receive a t-shirt, medal and goody bag.

    Entry costs £25 for adults and £7.50 for children and can be booked by clicking here or by calling 01795 845191.

    Raise £100 (per person) by the day of the event online and you can even claim back your registration fee.

    Events Manager Emma Middleton said: “Last year we were the first charity in the south east to hold a Bubble Rush fun run and it was so popular we are delighted to be doing it all over again. The event sums up the ethos of Demelza – fun, laughter and making memories.”

  • Crafty card making for Royal Carnival entry

    by User Not Found | Jun 03, 2016
    Children who are supported by Demelza have been getting creative as part of the charity’s entry into this year’s Eastbourne Sunshine Carnival.

    The charity has chosen a vintage tea party theme for their float and held a craft day to help decorate it.

    Five children aged six to 13 took part in the craft day on Tuesday (31 May) at Hailsham East Children’s Centre making birthday cards to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

    A music session was also organised by Belltree Music Therapy Centre and there was a photobooth, sensory play and lots of cake.

    The Eastbourne Sunshine Carnival will take place on the Seafront on Saturday 11 June. More than 1,500 walkers are expected to take part with some 25,000 fans and supporters there to cheer them on.
  • With great power comes great responsibility

    by Tessa Paton | May 31, 2016

    I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Marvel Universe lately. I say ‘I’ve been spending a lot of time in the Marvel Universe’ – what I mean by that is I’ve been watching lots of crap telly about superheroes when I should be going to bed. I’m a little bit addicted.

    I think the reason superheroes and their ‘universes’ are so addictive is because they’re so simple. A difficult superhero dilemma is usually something like: I’ve only got time to do one thing, so should I save the lives of lots of people, or save the person I love?  (Supervillains love that one). Or sometimes you might get wrongly accused of throwing a bus full of nuns off a bridge or something, and everyone hates you and you get a bit petulant about it. On the face of it those things sound quite tricksy, but they aren’t actually all that difficult to deal with, especially as you usually manage to get out of it with your superpowers. 

    If you were a superhero you wouldn’t have to bother so much with the more tedious, and genuinely difficult, things in life, like how to best support your family through hard times when the answer is more complicated than just beating a mutant cyborg in a fight. And if you’re a superhero, you don’t have health problems or disabilities. The superhero I’m addicted to at the minute is blind, but it doesn’t matter because his other senses are so supersensy that he can still easily kill all the baddies.

    I recently saw some astonishingly lyrical writing by a child who uses Demelza services, in which he talked about himself as a mighty, invincible superhero. And in our art therapy and art activities sessions, superheroes are a common theme. Children often identify with superheroes – they are a way they can imagine being more powerful than the people and things around them, to exert some control where they feel they have relatively little. And they are a way to visualise overcoming problems and fears – by fighting them head on with laser eyes and ninja stars.

    The children who use our services do overcome the greatest obstacles, and they beat into submission the biggest possible fears you can imagine. Their family members have to fight alongside them in a team, like in The Avengers. That’s a huge responsibility, and one they never asked for. They are superheroes.

    Back in the Marvel Universe, Spiderman’s kindly Uncle Ben once said that with great power comes great responsibility. I wouldn’t know, but I do know that sometimes people get given the greatest responsibilities and no extra power. To manage those responsibilities without super-strength, just with normal-strength, is truly extraordinary.