• Demelza welcomes a new Chair.

    by Joanna Blewett | Jul 03, 2018
    David Highton took up the position at the end of June following the charity’s annual general meeting, taking over from Sarah Phillips, who had served two terms, or six years.
    David is also Chair of the Trust Board at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, a position he has held since May 2017. 
    He was previously Ministerial Advisor to the Minister of Public Health in Qatar from 2016 and also Executive Director of Corporate Development at Hamad Medical Corporation, the main public hospital provider in Qatar, for six years.
    Prior to moving to Qatar, David worked in the independent health sector, including being Director of his own consulting company and heading up business development for an acute home healthcare provider.
    David was an NHS Chief Executive from 1991 to 2003, including the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust and the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, where he was instrumental in the creation of a new dedicated children’s hospital.
    Originally a chartered accountant, David worked in publishing, property services, the brewing industry, an industrial starches business and in the City, before joining the NHS as a Finance Director in 1990.
    David, 64, who is married and has a grown up family, has strong links with Kent, having spent his childhood in Meopham and Sittingbourne. He currently lives in Whistable. Outside of work David is a Vice President (and previously Chairman and President) of Sittingbourne Rugby Club.
    He said: “I have had a lot to do with children's health care in a hospital setting, particularly in Chelsea and in Oxford and I believe the work of Demelza is very important for the children and families which we serve. 
    “The charity has a very clear strategy to deliver more care in community settings and to increase the number of children for whom we provide care - I want to focus on enabling that strategy to be implemented over the next three years.”
  • Thrifty shoppers bag holiday bargains

    by Joanna Blewett | Jul 02, 2018
    Thrifty shoppers who are looking for some cheap but cheerful holiday clobber will be pleased to know that help is at hand.
    Demelza Hospice Care for Children charity shops across Kent, South East London and East Sussex have recently taken delivery of a brand new summer holiday range, which includes beach bags, sunhats, drinking cups, flower garlands and other accessories. The various items, which are perfect to transform any outfit or trip to the beach into something chic and fun, are selling within days of hitting the shelves, requiring frequent re-stocks.
    Pictured are four Demelza shop managers from across the region modelling the range outside the Hythe High Street store. Left to right they are Fizz Dean, from Demelza’s Hailsham shop, Karen Wood from Eastbourne, Shirley Loetz from Battle and Michelle Stanford from Hythe.
    Rachel Stead, Demelza’s Shops Operations Manager, said: “We have hats and bags with all different colours, patterns and designs. The ladies straw hats in particular are really popular, we can’t get them on the shelves quick enough!”
    The new merchandise is on sale now across the region.
  • A new shop for Tonbridge is coming soon!

    by Paul Lawrence | Jun 26, 2018

    A Demelza shop is coming to Tonbridge very soon! We have just taken on the lease at 48 High St (next to Tui) and we are all steam ahead preparing for the big day.

    Staff are busy getting ready but we desperately need help from our supporters and local residents.

    Here’s how you can help…

    • Volunteer

      Your gift of time is simply priceless to Demelza.  We are already recruiting volunteers for our shop in Tonbridge and we will need plenty of shop helpers in time for launch. 

      Volunteering for Demelza Hospice Care for Children is a great way to meet new people and make friends, develop new skills and most importantly directly help to raise crucial funds for children with terminal conditions.

      Find out how you can volunteer by clicking here.

      For an informal chat about volunteering opportunities, please contact Shirley Winch, Area Manager on 07712 321392

    • Donate Stock

      Once the shop is open, we will be looking for some lovely donated stock for our shops. We welcome good quality clothing, toys, bric-a-brac and books.

      If you would like to donate before the shop opens (exact date to be announced), please drop off goods to our Shopping Outlet in Maidstone. Full details here.

      Just prior to opening we will be holding some open days at the shop when you can drop stock off directly at the shop. Keep checking back this web page for updates.

    • Shop!

    And of course, once we are open, please drop in and shop to your heart’s content…

  • Demelza has celebrated its 20th anniversary.

    by Joanna Blewett | Jun 19, 2018
    To mark the very special milestone an afternoon tea was held at the Demelza’s children’s hospice in Sittingbourne, Kent, for invited guests. These included families of children with terminal conditions who use Demelza services, bereaved parents who have been supported in the past and long serving volunteers and members of staff.
    Also invited were trustees past and present, whose early years of fundraising made Demelza possible, corporate supporters, the families of those who have left significant legacies and trust funders. 
    The event included Lady Kingsdown presenting awards to some of Demelza’s long standing volunteers, who told them “we wouldn’t be where we are today without you”.
    Chief Executive Ryan Campbell CBE said: “We are thrilled to be celebrating 20 years of Demelza Hospice Care for Children. Since opening we have helped thousands of local people and every single one of our supporters has played a part in helping us to do that and to reach this special anniversary.”
    Demelza provides specialist care and emotional support for children with serious and terminal conditions and their loved ones, so they can enjoy their time together as a family, for as long as they have.
    Derek Phillips, father of Demelza, the charity’s namesake, attended the celebrations. Demelza died tragically from a brain tumour at the age of 24. She had worked at a children’s hospice in Birmingham and was inspired by their work. This inspiration was passed onto her parents who had the vision to establish a children’s hospice in the South-East of England. They worked tirelessly to attract supporters and thanks to their hard work the Demelza children’s hospice in Sittingbourne was officially opened in in June 1998.
    Mr Phillips said: “My daughter would have been thrilled to see how much has been achieved.”
    Over the years Demelza has grown and developed. As well as the children’s hospice in Sittingbourne there is also another in Eltham, South East London, which opened in 2009. Demelza has also provided a hospice at home service in East Sussex since 2004.
    Lavinia Jarrett, Demelza’s Deputy Chief Executive, has worked with the charity for more than 18 years. She said: “Over the years Demelza has grown changed and grown but still at the heart of all we do is the children and families that we care for and support.
    “We rely on our local communities to support us and we’d like to thank everyone who has contributed over the years. Without them we could not continue. Their support is vital, whether this is volunteering for us, donating goods to our charity shops, supporting the Demelza lottery or raising funds.
    “Here’s to the next 20 years of striving to meet the needs of the children, young people and families we serve.”
  • Charity Chairman retires from a truly “inspiring” place

    by Joanna Blewett | Jun 15, 2018
    The retiring Chairman of Demelza Hospice Care for Children has described her time with the charity as “inspiring and rewarding” and has said that many touching moments will remain with her forever.

    Sarah Phillips steps down at the end of June at the completion of her two three-year terms and said many of her farewells on Friday 15 June when Demelza held a celebration to mark the charity’s 20th anniversary.

    Mrs Phillips said: “My previous experience had been in charities within the fields of disability or victims of crime, but never with children.  When I was approached to chair Demelza, I saw immediately what a wonderful cause it is and was delighted to be appointed. The fact that Demelza benefits from a huge bank of volunteers  and the expertise of the amazing care team supports not just the child with a terminal illness but the extended family as well fitted with my previous roles. 

     “There are too many highlights to list but I was very proud of all the staff and volunteers when we were awarded  The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and gained a rating of ‘outstanding’ by the Care Quality Commission for the Kent Hospice 
     “I’ve enjoyed every minute and in particular seeing what a difference the charity makes to children and their families. “

    The retiring Chairman was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1981 and volunteered subsequently for the MS Society at branch, regional, national and international level, becoming the first Chairman with MS of the UK Society (1998-2005) and the MS International Federation (2004-2011). From 2005 until 2011 Mrs Phillips was Chairman of Victim Support nationally. She remains a local volunteer supporting victims of crime, particularly those affected by domestic violence. Among other activities, Mrs Phillips served for 13 years as a non-executive director of an NHS Mental Health Foundation Trust in North Essex.  In 2005 she was awarded an OBE for services to disability and made a Deputy Lieutenant for Essex. Mrs Phillips lives in in East Anglia, near Colchester. 

    Ryan Campbell, Demelza’s Chief Executive, said: “We have been immensely fortunate to have had Sarah with us for the past six years. We are very grateful for the invaluable contribution she has made. Since arriving at Demelza in 2012, Sarah has established a high performing board of trustees who are deeply committed to making Demelza even more effective. Sarah will be handing over to our new Chairman David Highton and we are confident he will build on Sarah’s great work so that we can continue to meet the future needs of the children and families we support.”

    David Highton is currently Chair of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and was previously Chief Executive Officer of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust and Chief Executive Officer of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust.  
  • Nurse completes 300 mile bike ride and a marathon

    by Joanna Blewett | Jun 13, 2018

    A super fit nurse has completed a two-pronged challenge which involved a 300 mile cycle ride closely followed by a marathon.

    Melissa Day, 39, is a children’s palliative care nurse with Demelza Hospice Care for Children. To raise money for the charity she took part in the Demelza 101 Sittingbourne to Paris bike ride at the beginning of May and then ran the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of the month – raising a magnificent £1,800 to help provide vital services.

    Demelza has a children’s hospice in Sittingbourne Kent and another in Eltham, South East London, as well as providing a hospice at home care service in East Sussex. Melissa, who lives in West Malling, works at the Eltham Hospice where she is part of the care team providing specialist care and emotional support for babies, children and young people with terminal conditions and their loved ones, so they can enjoy their time together as a family, for as long as they have.

    Melissa said: “I did the two events because I love the charity I work for. I see the service we provide to families and how important it is to them.”

    The 26 mile run was Melissa’s fourth marathon which she did in the amazing time of three hours and 57 minutes. Melissa only recently discovered a love for cycling.

    As a charity, not part of the NHS, Demelza is almost entirely dependent on the generosity of its supporters to provide the funds that keep its vital services going.
    If you are inspired by Melissa’s efforts then why not take on a charity challenge yourself? Find one to suit you at: https://www.demelza.org.uk/support-us/community-events

  • Pedal power helps raise funds

    by Joanna Blewett | Jun 12, 2018
     An amazing 155 riders braved blazing temperatures on Sunday 3rd June to take part in the Demelza Hospice Care for Children Pedal for a Purpose fundraising cycle ride.
    The blue skies and lovely sunshine resulted in lots of extra riders signing up on the day, with both families and avid cyclists taking part. 
    Cyclists were able to choose from a 10 mile family route, a 52 mile classic route or an 85 mile epic route, with chip timing, so the more competitive cyclists could aim for a personal best. Others simply enjoyed a leisurely ride through the stunning Kent countryside.
    All routes started and finished at Demelza children’s hospice in Sittingbourne. 
    Katherine Cordrey, senior community fundraiser at  Demelza, said: “I’d like to say a huge thank you to all who took part and who have helped us raise funds to keep vital services going. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day and it was perfect weather for cycling, lovely and sunny, with a bit of a breeze to keep the cyclists cool.
    “The routes were all very scenic and the epic route was quite a challenge, not only because of the distance, but also because there were a few hills. We have many fundraising events planned and hope these will be just as successful.”
    For more Demelza fundraising events for you to be involved in please visit: https://www.demelza.org.uk/support-us/challenges-and-events
  • Demelza Chief Executive awarded CBE

    by Joanna Blewett | Jun 11, 2018
    Ryan Campbell has been awarded a CBE by the Queen, in his role as Chair of the national mental health charity Mind, for services to improving mental health provision in England and Wales.

    In his role at Mind for over a decade and Chair for the last six years Ryan has overseen the charity’s governance at a time of unprecedented development in the challenging of stigma around mental health problems and increased public and political attention on the nation’s mental health.

    Ryan has also been Chief Executive of Demelza Hospice Care for Children since 2015 and has been pivotal in driving forward the charity’s five year strategy, with the aim of doubling the number of children with terminal conditions it cares for by 2021. 
    Demelza provides emotional support to family members too, who by the nature of their situation may find themselves consumed by grief, anxiety and depression brought about by the unpredictability of their child’s condition and high likelihood of death in childhood. 
    In response to the news, Demelza Chairman Sarah Phillips, said: “We are thrilled that Ryan’s remarkable and ongoing commitment to mental health throughout his career, including at Demelza, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. 
    “As a children’s hospice charity, Demelza supports those who are living with the fact that their child or children will die before they do and each family member will undoubtedly face their own difficulties and stress. 
    “With Ryan at the helm, Demelza continues to do an incredible job of supporting families who would otherwise be struggling to cope. This is a thoroughly deserved honour and I know I speak for everyone at Demelza in offering my congratulations to Ryan.” 
    Ryan said: “I truly believe that people who experience mental health problems (of whom I am one) and those around them have brought about one of the most significant and positive changes in our society in our generation, in terms of the acceptance and understanding of mental health problems and the support available.  I have been part of that change, but a tiny part, a voice amongst millions.  To be associated with that movement by this award is a deeply meaningful honour.  But we are nowhere near done, we need to go much further for people with mental health problems to get the support and respect they (we) deserve and need.  For me this award is a spur to keep going.”
  • Volunteer Valerie has been here from the start

    by Tessa Paton | Jun 01, 2018
    Many of Demelza’s supporters stay with us year after year as the cause catches hold of their heart – but none more than Valerie White, who has been on board since the very beginning.

    Valerie was secretary to our founder president Derek Phillips at his architects practice when he and his wife Jennifer decided to campaign for a children’s hospice in the south east in memory of their daughter Demelza, who tragically died aged just 24. Our namesake worked at a children’s hospice in Birmingham and was a passionate advocate.

    “Derek told me about the idea, said ‘Are you in?’ and I replied ‘Yes!’ That was that!” Valerie recalled. From January 1994 Valerie was part of a small band comprising the Phillips and the board of trustees, joined by more volunteers as word of their plan spread.

    “I was the unpaid company secretary but actually everyone just did anything that was necessary,” said Valerie. “I’d be reeling off letters, doing research, arranging presentation evenings.

    “The first event we took part in was the Rochester Carnival. My husband George worked for a car dealer and he borrowed a red car which we covered with posters of clowns, and some of us dressed up in clown costumes.”

    Valerie considers herself very lucky to have taken part in the incredibly hard but successful journey that saw an idea borne out of grief turn into the bricks and mortar of the Kent hospice, designed by Derek Phillips himself.

    “To see the hospice being built, opening and progressing has been wonderful,” she said.

    Valerie ultimately became a part-time member of staff, acting as company secretary and PA to the board. She retired in 2009 – when, among her gifts, she received a volunteer registration form. “As I was the first volunteer I’d never filled one in!” she laughed.

    There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that retirement would not mean saying goodbye to Valerie. After a few months’ rest, she was back in our Sittingbourne hospice helping out in the kitchen, and she can still be found there every Monday afternoon – along with her 21-year-old granddaughter Sophie, the next generation of the family to commit to volunteering for Demelza.

    Valerie said: “I do wonder where has the time gone, it seems like it was only a couple of years ago that this all started,  but I have gained many new friends and happy memories along the way.

    “Working in the kitchen is totally different from what I did in the past, but I still see all the life and activities of the hospice. You know you are doing something to help those who really need it.”

    Lavinia Jarrett, Director of People and Resources at Demelza, said: “Valerie has been one of our many outstanding supporters and volunteers for many years and has worked tirelessly throughout to engage people locally and raise the profile of Demelza’s work. 

    “Without her commitment and that of others we simply would not be in the place we are today, supporting so many children and families nor offering the range of services we do.  We rely heavily on all our volunteers and their enthusiasm and commitment to take us forward for the next 20 years!”

    Could you spare us a few hours as a Demelza volunteer? View our volunteering vacancies here.
  • Film makers pledge their support for Demelza

    by Paul Lawrence | May 25, 2018
    The tranquil grounds of Demelza Hospice Care for Children are to feature in a short film which looks to be destined for the Cannes Film Festival and possibly a BAFTA nomination.

    The film, called Yellow, is being made by the Film Actors Club in Maidstone and is to be shown at several film festivals this year. It was inspired by the Oscar winning short film The Silent Child. 

    In return for providing a location for some of the filming the club is to fundraise for Demelza and has also promised to shoot a corporate film for the charity, free of charge.

    Filming for Yellow took place in May at the charity’s children’s hospice in Bobbing, near Sittingbourne, away from families using the hospice - in a vacant patient room, outside in a garden and in the hydrotherapy room. 

    Yellow is a fictional film about a disabled man in a hospice trying to communicate with his carers in relation to his hidden secret of coming from another world. 

    Tessa Paton, Head of Marketing and Communications at Demelza Hospice Care for Children, said: “We were very pleased to be able to help the Film Actors Club in Maidstone with their film and we hope it will be a great success. The film crew were with us for three days and it was a pleasure to have them. Filming took place at the end of corridor so that we did not disturb any of the families using our facilities. Although one of our teenage patients was excited to find out what was going on and introduced herself and chatted with the crew.

    “We are thrilled the club is now going to fundraise for us and we greatly appreciate their support.”

    In addition to its Kent hospice, Demelza also has a hospice in Eltham, South East London and provide community support in the comfort of a child’s own home across East Sussex.

    The visiting film crew included the Maidstone club’s co-founder and head film acting coach Paul Lane, the club’s fight action and registered stunts director Adam Richards and the club’s director of film, photography and sound Kieran Henderson. Paul is a multi-award winning film director and professional film director and film acting coach. Adam is a martial arts expert and trained in Hong Kong with Jackie Chan and his team.

    He was also the stuntman for the red Power Ranger, a series which was popular in the early nineties.

    Paul Lane said: “Demelza is one of the most beautiful and inspiring places I've had the honour of connecting with. They will always be in my heart, mind and soul.”

    Demelza provides specialist care and support for children with terminal conditions and their loved ones, so they can enjoy their time together as a family, for as long as they have. As a charity, Demelza is almost entirely dependent on the generosity of the local community to provide the funds that keep its services going. 

    To find out more about the film club’s fundraising activities for Demelza and to support the club’s efforts please visit: https://www.thefilmactorsclub.com/copy-of-fund-raiser-katrina
  • Demelza welcomes HRH The Duchess of Cambridge’s Children’s Hospice Week message

    by Paul Lawrence | May 23, 2018

    Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Cambridge has sent a message of support to celebrate and mark Children’s Hospice Week (21-27 May) – the only week in the year dedicated to the only week in the year dedicated to raising awareness for children with terminal conditions, their families, and the people and hospices who support them.
    Demelza Hospice Care for Children is one of the charities joining The Duchess to mark Children's Hospice Week and is delighted that The Duchess has sent a special message of support for ‘Life’s Short’, the theme Children’s Hospice Week 2018. The Duchess’s support will help us reach out to families caring for children with serious and terminal conditions, so they know that help is at hand.
    The Duchess is asking everyone to join her this Children’s Hospice Week, in celebrating the remarkable and life-changing support provided by children’s hospices like Demelza. 

    In an excerpt from the message, The Duchess says:

    “The theme of Children’s Hospice Week this year is ‘Life’s Short’ and I am touched that children and young people are sharing what they love most in life and reminding us of how precious time is for everyone. By supporting Children’s Hospice Week we can help them spread joy and positivity across the UK, encouraging everyone to make the most of moments that matter…”
    “…I hope you will join me in supporting Children’s Hospice Week this year. Together we can champion the vital role that children’s hospices play in helping seriously ill children and families to have more precious moments.”

    The Duchess has generously given her support to Children’s Hospice Week since 2013.The impact over many years has been transformational, helping to raise awareness of the needs of children with serious and terminal conditions to show why they need specialist support.

    The theme of Children’s Hospice Week this year is ‘Life’s Short’ and in addition to the Duchess’s message, Demelza has been promoting the week with a video of its families sharing their #LifesShort moments that matter. 
    The video can be viewed on our Facebook page, along with a special Children’s Hospice Week competition to win an overnight stay for four at The Big Cat Sanctuary in Kent
    Tamsyn Clark, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Demelza said: “The Duchess’s support will mean so much to children, young people and families supported by Demelza, and will give them, and all the dedicated staff and volunteers a real boost. 
    “For children, like those supported by Demelza, “Life’s Short” has a poignant meaning: many simply do not have time to waste.
    “We hope people will join The Duchess in championing the role children’s hospices play in helping children with terminal conditions to make more moments that matter, by entering our Facebook competition and sharing their own #LifesShort moments that matter.” 

    The Duchess’s message can be viewed at Together for Short Lives’ website – the charity behind Children’s Hospice Week: 
    For your chance to enter our Children’s Hospice Week competition and win an overnight stay for four at The Big Cat Sanctuary visit our Facebook page

  • Incredi-bubble fun had at Bubble Rush Brighton in support of Demelza

    by Paul Lawrence | May 21, 2018

    There were bubbles and beaming smiles galore on Sunday 20 May when a frothy and foamy fun run with a difference took place at Hove Park, near Brighton.

    The event was our Brighton Bubble Rush 2018 – where ‘bubblers’ of all ages made their way through 4ft (1.2m) walls of coloured foam going twice around a 2.5km course – all in support of Demelza.

    The event is now in its fourth year and this time round there were more than 600 participants who included children, dads, mums, aunts, uncles, grandparents, carers and even the odd dog or two.

    Brighton Bubble Rush 2018 was started by the new mayor for Brighton and Hove Councillor Dee Simson and Ella, aged 18, who was able to take part in the wheelchair-friendly event with the assistance of two carers. Ella and her family have been receiving support from Demelza’s community team for several years. Ella needs round the clock care and the team visit the family home in Lewes twice a day, Monday to Friday.

    Her mum Andrea said: “Demelza are amazing and have given us lots of support. They’ve been a lifeline.”

    The mayor Cllr Deeson took her daughter and grand-daughter along to the event. She said: “Demelza is such a wonderful organisation. The charity does amazing work.”

    All bubblers were given a Bubble Rush T-shirt, a commemorative medal, a goody bag and there is a prize up for grabs for the bubbler who raises the most in sponsorship.

    Those taking part included families supported by Demelza, those who wanted to raise money for a good cause and others who were simply looking for a fun family day out.

    Entrants included father and son Stewart and Dexter Turner-Murrell, from Brighton, whose dog Woodie also ran the course, with the family wanting to raise money for a good cause. A family from Bexhill ran to raise money for Demelza as they have had support by Demelza. Kerry Taylor, from Lancing, went along with her children - Beth, nine and five-year-old Barney - and other relatives for a fun day out with the family.

    First over the finishing line was Felix Hazlewood, 13, from Brighton, closely followed by Nicole Bleasdale, 11, Ilse Saunders, 11 and Lexi Harker, 11, who are all members of Brighton and Hove Athletic Club.

    Hayley Richardson, Head of Community and Events at Demelza, said: “As a charity, Demelza is almost entirely dependent on the generosity of our supporters to provide the funds that keep our services going. We are so thankful to everyone who turned out at Bubble Rush Brighton and made this fundraising event such a brilliant day.”

    Those who missed the fun need not despair as we have another two Bubble Rush events this year which take place at Avery Hill Park, Eltham on Sunday 15 July and Mote Park, Maidstone, on Sunday 12 August

    You can also sign up here for these Demelza Bubble Rush 2018 events

    Click Bubble Rush Brighton images to view some pictures from the day.

  • Bag yourself some bargain books

    by Paul Lawrence | May 15, 2018

    Herne Bay is home to Demelza’s oldest shop – one that is still going strong today.

    Back in 1995, 165 Mortimer Street opened for business selling bric-a-brac to raise funds for the planned children’s hospice in Sittingbourne. Jenny Manners was an early customer, and would regularly pop in for a browse.

    “One day I happened to say to the person running it that I had always wanted to work in a shop, and they said, ‘Can you start on Thursday?’” recalled Jenny. That was 20 years ago and Jenny has been volunteering there every Thursday since.

    “It’s nice meeting people, and as we have lots of regulars you get to know them well,” she said, explaining why she still enjoys her weekly shift. “It gets me out of the house doing something interesting, and it’s a good charity of course, so it all comes together.”

    The shop became dedicated to book sales around 10 years ago. Demelza has a second shop selling a wide range of pre-loved items in nearby William Street.

    Manager Nick Rogers said: “We’re the only book shop in Herne Bay and, since many charity shops have decided not to take donations of books because they don’t have the space, we’ve become well-known in quite a wide area.

    “We have customers who come in every day – we’ve become part of their daily routine.”

    Nick estimates book donations run into the thousands every week. Smart pricing - £1.10 for paperbacks, children’s books for 40p-60p – means customers often leave weighed down with bulging bags, while youngsters can get a real treasure for their pocket money.

    These two categories are the bestsellers, with history, transport, cookery and gardening also popular. Titles that definitely don’t fly off the shelves are TV show tie-ins from Christmases past:  many still pristine and clearly unread gifts!

    To make sure there’s plenty of fresh stock for their loyal regulars to look over, Nick and his team of 25 volunteers operate a clever colour coding system so books only spend five weeks on the shelves.

    “If they haven’t gone by then we know they won’t sell here,” said Nick. Trays of unsold paperbacks go back to Demelza’s distribution warehouse destined for our other shops. Titles the team know won’t find a buyer or are in unsaleable condition are collected weekly by book recycling company Choice, which pays £1.25 per sack.

    While the shop is yet to hit the jackpot with a Harry Potter first edition – “I think people are too clued up about these things now,” said Nick – they do receive collectable tomes which can fetch up to £50. Perhaps their most valuable find – in emotional worth rather than financial – was an 19th century family bible. Names inscribed in it led one of the volunteer team to track down the family’s descendants in Australia, and get the bible returned to them.

    As well as books, we are always grateful to receive your donations of clothing and homeware for our shops in Kent, South East London and East Sussex. Find your nearest shop here – and don’t miss the opportunity to look for a bargain!

  • Demelza 101 cyclists raise £100,000

    by Paul Lawrence | May 08, 2018

    Their knees were sore, their tyres were flat – but the magnificent Demelza 101 cyclists who rode into Paris on Saturday (05 May) were on top of the world.

    Four days and over 300 miles after setting out from Demelza Kent, our hospice in Sittingbourne, the riders from all over Kent, East Sussex and South East London arrived to a rapturous welcome at the foot of the Eiffel Tower from their families and Demelza representatives.

    There they heard the news that together they have raised an incredible £100,000 towards Demelza’s work with children with terminal conditions and their families.

    Matt Freestone from Brighton, took part in memory of his daughter Abigail who was cared for by Demelza.Matt and Josh Freestone

    He was joined on the ride by his 16-year-old son Josh – the youngest-ever participant to take part in the Demelza 101 cycle ride, which is now in its third year.

    Matt, 44, said: “We knew that our time with Abby would be short, so we wanted to create memories and family experiences that we would come to cherish. Demelza helped us to do that, The Demelza 101 challenge is our way of giving back to Demelza so the charity can continue helping other families in need.”

    Mel Day, 39, from West Malling, is part of the Demelza care team, providing expert andMel_Day_Demelza_101 compassionate care for children and young people with terminal conditions and their loved ones, so they can enjoy their time together as family, for as long as they have.

    The Children’s Palliative Care Nurse is based at Demelza’s other hospice in Eltham, South East London, and has raised £1,800 in sponsorship.

    Mel said: “I’ve always loved running and it’s a great way of coping with the emotional aspects of my role as it gives you the time to think, reflect and let go. But since training for the Demelza 101 I’ve found a new love for cycling.

    “It’s a tough challenge but knowing I’m riding for the children, young people and families supported by Demelza got me through. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of and I’d encourage anyone to give a Demelza fundraising challenge a go.”

    As a charity, not part of the NHS, Demelza is almost entirely dependent on the generosity of its supporters to provide the funds that keep its vital services going.

    Hayley Richardson, Head of Community and Events, said: “We are so grateful and proud of every one of the Demelza 101 riders, and amazed by how much they have raised, which will make an enormous difference to the care and support we give.

    “We have a jam-packed calendar of fundraising events and we hope others will feel inspired to take on their own #TeamDemelza challenge.”

    Feeling inspired to take on a fundraising challenge for Demelza yourself? Why not take part in the Great Wall of China Trek in October 2019?

    To find out more please visit the Demelza China Trek 2019 event page

  • Memory making by the seaside

    by Paul Lawrence | Apr 27, 2018

    Demelza families recently enjoyed a special day of memory making in Brighton.

    The fun-filled event, hosted by charity Forward Facing, welcomed families supported by our Community Team in East Sussex.  

    All gathered at the Brighton Dome during the half term well for a day of face paints, fun and choreographed dance, which was then captured on film for families to keep.

    All had the chance to have their photograph taken with footballing legend Rio Ferdinand and every child left with balloons, teddies and an Easter egg.

    Demelza Family Support Worker Toni Goodall said: “The day was one of the most joy-filled and optimistic occasions I have ever experienced. It reminds families that they can create and share positive memories together and that there are other people in the same boat as them. It’s such a special event and it’s an honour to be witness to the positive memories made together.”

  • Devon mansion for sale to raise funds for Demelza Hospice Care for Children

    by Paul Lawrence | Apr 18, 2018

    An anonymous millionaire is selling his Devon mansion to help raise funds for Demelza Hospice Care for Children.

    It’s not just the £2.3m mansion with its swimming pool, gym and three-hole golf course up for grabs through the online competition at www.millionairemansion.co.uk. The prize also includes a Rolls Royce, contents and furnishings, Stamp Duty paid and £50,000 in cash.

    The owners decided to offer the ‘Millionaire Mansion’ as a prize as a way of selling their home, with 20 per cent of all the proceeds being shared with Demelza and 10 of their favourite charities.

    "We’ve had some wonderful times in the house, which we designed and built ourselves,” said the owner, who wishes to remain anonymous.

    "However, we want to be closer to our grandchildren. We thought that selling the house through a competition would be a fun thing to do and would mean we could raise money for some of our favourite charities.”

    Situated in a mid-Devon hamlet, the property features a sweeping driveway, 10 acres of immaculately landscaped grounds, golfing greens, fully equipped kitchen, wine cellar, indoor swimming pool, gym and self-contained apartment with its own garden. There are also nine runner-up prizes of £10,000 each.

    Competition tickets, which are £10, plus 50p booking fee per transaction, are available to buy at millionairemansion.co.uk.

    For a chance of winning, entrants need to go to millionairemansion.co.uk and successfully answer a multiple-choice question. The competition runs until November 28, 2018.

    Entrants must be aged 18 years or over and a permanent resident of England, Wales or Scotland, to enter. Competition terms and conditions apply. https://millionairemansion.co.uk/terms-and-conditions/

    Devon Mansion for sale to raise funds for Demelza
  • Tuning in to the power of music

    by Paul Lawrence | Mar 29, 2018

    Everyone knows that hearing a certain song can instantly lift their mood, while another tune will bring a tear to their eye – we all respond to music.

    At Demelza, we use the power of music to comfort babies, children and young people in our care, and give them and their families an outlet for their emotions.

    Music Therapist Victoria Swan, who works at our hospices in Kent and South East London, explains: “Music therapy is based on the belief that we can all respond to and appreciate music, regardless of age, disability or illness.”

    Victoria uses her voice, a wide range of instruments, and – particularly popular in sessions with older children – digital music technology in individual and group sessions.

    “Every session is completely different. If I am working with bereaved siblings, for instance, they might want to write a song about how much they miss their brother or sister. They may be dealing with emotions they struggle to talk about, like guilt at feeling glad to have their mum and dad back to themselves, and music is an outlet for expressing them.”

    As well as an emotional response, music also has a physiological effect. “Music has an extraordinary capacity to offer a distraction during painful and invasive procedures or muscle spasms,” explains Victoria. “It has been shown to reduce pain levels by influencing the levels of endorphins.”

    Music therapy is one of the ways Demelza helps families to build precious memories. When a child is receiving end of life care, Victoria offers to sing and play for everyone.

    “If I have already had sessions with the child I will know the songs and instruments they like, otherwise I go on instinct, using quieter instruments like acoustic guitar, singing bowl or thumb piano. I encourage the rest of the family to dance, sing or just listen together, and often record the sessions to add to their treasured memories.

    “Music can bring families together during extraordinarily difficult times. Families can bond over music because it offers a shared experience which is not about the next medical procedure. For the child, music aids relaxation and helps with their breathing, and brings an acoustic source of comfort, reassuring them of their family’s presence.”

    Music can also help address cultural and spiritual needs when a child dies. Through working with a Nigerian mother whose newborn son was receiving end of life care, Victoria discovered that in her culture musicians sang when people died to guide their spirit into the next life. Victoria was able to to sing and play for the baby boy, bringing her great comfort.

    Victoria has known she wanted to be a music therapist since the age of 12, when her music teacher introduced the idea because although she loved to sing, Victoria hated to perform. Having gained her music degree and Masters in music therapy, she was volunteering at the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability in London when she met a young woman who had received care at Demelza until she reached adulthood, and who encouraged her to use her skills to help whole families. She joined us shortly afterwards in 2012.

    “I am very proud to work for Demelza,” she says. “I love that my job is different every day, and feeling that I make a difference.”

    Find out more about the therapies on offer at Demelza by visiting www.demelza.org.uk/therapies

  • A good meal makes a big difference

    by Paul Lawrence | Mar 26, 2018

    The kitchen is often described as the heart of a home, and that’s certainly the case at Demelza Hospice Care for Children.

    When the Kent hospice was built nearly 20 years ago, making the kitchen and dining area the central focus was fundamental to the design.

    “It was important that it didn’t look like a hospital – that it should be a home from home,” explains Demelza Operations Manager Tim Richards.

    So one of the first things families see when they come into the hospice in Sittingbourne is a huge, usually busily occupied, communal table companionably set next to the open kitchen. It’s a welcome vision of normality.

    Being able to sit around the table together is also a great way of breaking the ice with regular visitors and members of staff and volunteers, who also eat there, chatting with new families and showing them the ropes.

    The kitchen itself is a hive of activity. At both residential hospices, in Sittingbourne and Eltham, South East London, a team of three staff and volunteers work together on a rota basis to prepare and serve, breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.

    They make sure there is plenty of choice on the menu – and a seemingly endless supply of cake. That’s on top of meeting the special dietary needs of all the children using the hospices, which can be complex.

    The team also has to make sure the separate kitchen areas used by teenagers and family members staying overnight are well stocked so they can help themselves to hot drinks and toast whenever they want.

    Chef Philip Martin – universally known as Pie – has worked in the kitchen in Sittingbourne for the past 10 years.  The catering team liaises closely with the care team to ensure they meet the young service users’ nutritional needs – keeping a record of their favourite foods so they can be sure to have them ready when they come in – and pay equal attention to the rest of the family.

    “We want to make sure that families don’t have to worry about anything to do with meals while they are here,” Pie explains. “Before coming to Demelza they might have spent months in hospital living on canteen food and sandwiches, or their child may have very specific nutritional requirements. When they want to give all their attention to their sick child, our being able to put a good meal on the table makes a big difference.”

    If they choose to, families can bring in their own supplies, but most take advantage of all that’s on offer. While there is always a healthy option on the menu, comfort food like cottage pie and toad in the hole is always a popular choice. With a rueful grin, Pie admits that the children’s favourite is chicken nuggets.

    So that the whole family can share meal together, the kitchen will prepare the same dish for children who cannot manage solid food, going so far as to blend items separately so they look more appetising.

    As ever, it is our volunteers who make all this possible. Some are trained chefs themselves and are invaluable for helping with menu planning and preparation – especially when a consignment of discounted surplus supermarket goods from food redistribution charity Fareshare comes in. Paul Brown brings 48 years’ experience in the catering industry to Demelza, and now loves working with his fellow volunteers. For Diane Jones, who has been helping out in the kitchen for 10 years, it was the chance to do something completely different that appealed. “It’s a nice relaxed atmosphere with fantastic staff,” she says.

    Will you give £25 to Demelza to feed a family for one day? Please visit our Donate page. We are also grateful for donations of tea, coffee and sugar, as well as Sainsbury’s vouchers. Thank you for your support.

  • Rugby star Sam Warburton visits our south east London children’s hospice

    by Paul Lawrence | Mar 14, 2018
    Rugby Legend Sam Warburton OBE “instantly fell in love” with Demelza when he visited families in our care on Tuesday 13 March. 

    The Welsh international rugby union player and two-times Lions skipper is supporting Demelza as one of his charities during his testimonial year.

    Father-of-one Sam, 29, visited our Eltham hospice Demelza SEL, where children up to the age of 19 come for respite, therapies, symptom management and end of life care
    Sam, who will be raising vital funds for Demelza throughout the testimonial season, met three-year-old Mia who has been coming to Demelza since she was just 11 days old after suffering a bleed on the brain at birth. 

    Brothers Thomas, 10, and eight-year-old Connor, who were both born with congenital heart disease and a host of other health issues, also gave Sam a warm welcome by displaying the Welsh flag on the hospice’s sensory magic carpet.  

    Sam, who has a young daughter, said: “Demelza’s facilities are unbelievable – the respite it gives parents, the support it gives children with terminal illnesses – it can really help the family. I’ve had a walk around and met some of the parents and they can’t speak more highly enough of the hospice. 

    “It’s friendly and happy. I’ve been really impressed with the staff and facilities that are second to none, where the children can come to make happy memories with their families.” 

    After meeting families Sam was taken on a tour of the facilities, including the sensory and music room where families can enjoy therapies and create memories and Butterfly Room bereavement suites where a child can lay at rest after they have died.  

    Demelza also has another hospice Demelza Kent, near Sittingbourne, and a Community Team who provide vital care in the homes of families in East Sussex

    Ann Fagg, Care Service Lead at Demelza SEL, said: “We’re so grateful to Sam for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit Demelza and for choosing to support us during his testimonial year. He interacted beautifully with the children and raised so many smiles.

    “The unique support we give to families comes at a price and we’re reliant on the generosity of our local community to raise funds that keep our services going. Having Sam’s support will not only help us financially but it will also help to raise awareness of the specialist care and emotional support we give to so many families.”  
  • Thank you Barbara!

    by Stuart Hubbard | Mar 07, 2018

    It was love at first sight for newly retired teacher Barbara Derham when she visited Demelza’s Sittingbourne hospice on one of its very first open days in 1998. The hospice had opened its doors and welcomed in the local community to explain the care and services that would be on offer at the newly built children’s hospice.

    “I wasn’t particularly looking for a volunteering role at that stage. I’d not long retired and I was busy looking after my grandson. But walking through the front doors on my first visit to Demelza, I was bowled over by the love, care and compassion you could just feel from the team and the building itself. There were no children there at that stage, but the staff – there’s something very special about them - welcomed me in like an old friend and I knew I wanted to be a part of this family.”

    Barbara signed up to volunteer once a week on the housekeeping team.  However, on the morning that Barbara was due to start at Demelza, she received a phone call to let her know that the kitchen needed help. One day in the kitchen turned to five years volunteering as a cook. Each Tuesday Barbara would arrive just after 8am to start preparing home cooked meals, snacks and treats for the families staying at the hospice. 

    From the kitchen, Barbara moved across to the care team as a care volunteer working with the children that visited the hospice, often taking siblings on outings and supporting bereaved families.

    “There was always such lovely feedback from the families I worked with, Demelza gave them hope and strength in their darkest moments,” explains Barbara.  “It’s a lifeline – a chance to receive vital support and guidance, and to know that someone really cares about your child and your situation. It’s so important to our Demelza families.”

    Over the years, Demelza has grown and we are able to care for more families in more locations, but Barbara sees a constant feature across the last 20 years: “Care, love and support - that is the heart of Demelza. They are the warm arms that wrap around the families with children facing terminal illness. That has always been there and will always continue to be there.”

    Sadly, Barbara will leave Demelza this month after an inspirational 20 years of volunteering: “I’ll take with me the wonderful friendships I have made here. I became part of the Demelza family very quickly and I will always feel like I am a part of this remarkable place.”

    Barbara is one of more than 1,000 volunteers who kindly give their time to Demelza every year.

    Lynne Clark, Head of Voluntary Services, said: "A heartfelt thank you to Barbara, on behalf of us all here at Demelza ,for her continued support and devotion over the last 20 years. The generosity of all of our volunteers is vital in helping Demelza to continue providing terminally ill children and their families with much needed care and support.”

    Could you donate some of your time to Demelza? Find out more about our exciting volunteering opportunities.