• Opening your garden is a blooming good idea

    by User Not Found | Mar 02, 2016
    Calling all gardeners – could you help Demelza by sharing the fruits of your labours with friends, family and neighbours?
    Blooming Good Gardens 2016 will see supporters inviting people to enjoy a stroll around their garden, perhaps while enjoying refreshments such as afternoon tea or a barbecue, in return for a donation.
    The money raised goes towards our work with life-threatened and life-limited children and their families in East Sussex, Kent and South East London.
    The date you open your garden is up to you, so you can choose the best time for it to be seen in its full glory – just let the charity know so they can help you to promote the occasion.
    Someone who knows the value of a beautiful garden is Demelza Kent’s Head Gardener Mark Blackman.
    “We take great pride in our beautiful hospice gardens so we are hoping keen gardeners from across the south east will get involved in Blooming Good Gardens,” said Mark.
    “It needn’t be a back garden – why not open your allotment, or get together with neigbours to host an event in your communal space?”
    Click here to find fundraising packs full of tips and inspiring ideas, invitations, flyers and posters to advertise your event, donations forms – there’s even dotty bunting to download.
  • Gaming event offers bargains for a great cause

    by User Not Found | Feb 29, 2016
    Gaming fans at Canterbury College got their hands on some bargains while supporting Demelza.

    The charity joined forces with students on the college’s media course to run the four-day on-campus gaming event on 23-26 February.

    Stalls stacked with donated consoles, games, branded t-shirts and toys proved a big hit, and students paid a donation to have a go at retro games including Space Invaders.

    The event raised a total of £3,500 to help Demelza care for life-limited and life-threatened children in Kent, South East London and East Sussex.

    “This is the third year students have worked with us on the event as part of their studies, and they are brilliant, really supportive of Demelza,” said Demelza’s Shops Operations Manager, Rachel Stead, who visits the college to talk about the charity’s work.

    “Thanks must also go to Debbie Baumback, manager of our Whitstable charity shop, who collects donated gaming items all year and makes sure everything is safety-tested and working.”

    Course lecturer Stuart Dodd said: “It is an absolute honour to do this for Demelza, a charity very close to my heart. I am incredibly proud of the students for all their hard work and dedication.”


  • Riders prepare for epic cycle in aid of #TeamDemelza

    by User Not Found | Feb 25, 2016

    One hundred cyclists are preparing to cycle from Sittingbourne to Amsterdam to raise funds for Demelza.

    The riders will be cycling 340 miles as part of the Demelza 101 challenge.

    They will be setting off from Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne on 27 April and coming into Amsterdam on 30 April.

    The team is made up of Demelza family members, keen cyclists, corporate supporters and Demelza staff. They range from those who are used to cycling long distances to those who hadn’t got on a bike for years before starting training.

    Over the past 12 months the Demelza 101 team have been raising sponsorship money by holding events including cake sales, a ball, band nights, quiz nights and curry nights. The event has already raised a staggering £98,000 which could pay for two nurses and one care assistant for a year, a day’s care at Demelza SEL and a day’s care at Demelza Kent.

    Mum Liz and daughter Kelly Withall from Sittingbourne are the only mother and daughter team taking part in the Demelza 101. Liz took part in the Sittingbourne to Paris fundraiser in April 2014 and has persuaded Kelly to join the team this time.

    Liz explains what she got out of the Sittingbourne to Paris bike ride and why she has signed up again: “I couldn’t believe how supportive my fellow riders were, many of whom belonged to clubs and were what I call ‘proper’ cyclists. The crew running the whole event were also such a great bunch. Then to cap off a perfect experience all my family were in Paris waiting for me when we arrived en-masse to ride round the Eiffel Tower. There was much hugging and laughter as well as tears of joy and relief that we had made it.”

    Kelly added: “The staff at Demelza do a wonderful but very hard job, a job I could never do, I admire them. Having spoken to parents of children who have been helped by the Demelza team, their care and understanding of the child and parent needs is overwhelming. Please help me raise funds to support this brilliant charity. I want this support to be available to all families that need it.”

    Demelza Community Fundraiser David Holmes, from Leysdown, who is also taking part said: “When I went up to Ebbsfleet to collect the bikes from the Sittingbourne to Paris ride I was so taken by the camaraderie by those who took part I decided that if we did it again I would take part.

    “However by the time I realised it was about another 100 miles I had already signed up so I couldn’t change my mind. I am really looking forward to making new friends and finishing the challenge.”

    Demelza Events Coordinator Emma Austen said: “We are so excited to be organising another epic cycle ride with the challenge two years on of it being a bit longer than Sittingbourne to Paris. It’s been so great to hear about everyone’s different fundraisers and how each rider has approached their training. They all love being part of #TeamDemelza and helping to make a difference to the children and families who need us.”

  • You make my pants want to get up and dance

    by User Not Found | Feb 23, 2016
    In a few weeks’ time I’m going to be on a local radio programme in East Sussex, in which I get to choose all the music. Of the 20 songs on my list, 13 are from my childhood and adolescence. Of those, three are directly inherited from my parents – songs that were played in the house when I was young.

    If that represents who I am today, then 65% of me is the same person I was before I became an adult, and 15% of me comes directly from my parents. The influence of parenting is astoundingly deep in our psyches. Or how else could you explain Dr Hook (pictured in their heyday) on my playlist?

    If I was making this list back in my childhood, those percentages would have been much higher, and the younger I was the more my tastes would have been directly aligned with that of my adult family members. As a 10 year-old, Barry Manilow and The Wurzels would have made it onto there. But it’s not the case that children’s personalities come directly from their parents.

    One of my song choices is inherited from my five year old son. Our children start out being linked almost wholly to us, but very quickly as we influence and change them, they influence and change us too.

    I wonder if that is sometimes even more the case for the children who use Demelza. When I see young people with their parents in our services, I’m taken aback by the particular closeness in their relationships.

    I wonder if that comes from parents sometimes being the only people who can readily communicate with their child, where there are communication issues. Or, when I attend one of our parents’ forums and hear what families are going through, I wonder if it’s because of the extraordinary lengths which parents of children with disabilities often have to go to in battling, striving and fighting for the care and support they need and are entitled to.

    As young people reach adolescence and start to develop their own independent hideous musical tastes, it’s a fight that they then start to take on themselves.

    It shouldn’t be like that. Parents of children with disabilities shouldn’t have to be warriors, and neither should their children. Life can be hard enough as it is without unnecessary battles.

    I don’t have the answer. But sometimes our care staff, family support staff, and transition and youth support staff do, or they can at least help share the load.
  • £25,000 win spells dream holiday

    by User Not Found | Feb 23, 2016
    One lucky family is looking forward to the holiday of a lifetime after winning £25,000 in the Demelza Superdraw.

    Kim Beckingham started playing the charity’s lottery in 2011, but never dreamed her numbers would come up.

    “I signed up because Demelza is such a worthwhile cause, but I had no expectations as I’ve never won anything before. So winning came completely out of the blue and my reaction was total disbelief!”

    Now Kim, her developer husband Philip and their two daughters, aged eight and 10, are planning some extra special adventures during a dream holiday to America.

    The Demelza Lottery provides vital regular income to the charity, which has to raise over £10.5 million a year to care for life-threatened and life-limited children and their families at its hospices in Kent and South East London and in the community throughout East Sussex.

    Demelza’s Head of Lottery and Gaming, Paul Booth, said: “Our lottery gives our supporters the chance to win and live their dream while enabling us to help seriously ill children to live the best life they can.”

    From as little as £2 a week, players have the chance to win the £25,000 Superdraw or one of 53 weekly Lotto prizes of between £5-£1,000. For your chance to win, join now!
  • Swimmer raises over £4,000 despite missing out on record

    by User Not Found | Feb 18, 2016
    Danny Hanlon and Bernard Stone were just 3.9km off their goal of being the first relay team to swim the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand when bad weather forced them to abandon their swim.

    “Early on in the day, we were making great progress and looked set to reach the other side within 9 hours and set the new two-man record,” said Danny. “The highlights included each of us swimming with a pod of up to 15 dolphins, chasing around us at incredible speeds and clearly looking to see what was going on. Bernie also encountered a giant pack of jellyfish, swimming 100 metres to avoid them, and I was circled by a huge Albatross, looking to have a go at my toes!

    “We now know first-hand why the Cook Strait is considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world.”

    Despite missing out on the record Danny has raised nearly £4,500 for Demelza and recently visited Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne to see the difference his fundraising will make. He even tried out the hospice’s hydrotherapy pool, considerably warmer than the waters in the Cook Strait!

    You can still sponsor Danny here: https://www.justgiving.com/Danny-Hanlon/


  • Volunteers needed for Maidstone shop

    by User Not Found | Feb 12, 2016

    Staff will be at the shop in the Royal Star Arcade on 3rd March between 10.30am to 1pm with information for anyone interested in volunteering.

    The charity originally opened a pop up shop in the Royal Star Arcade for Christmas 2014. But the store proved so popular with shoppers that when another unit in the centre became available last year Demelza decided to open a permanent shop. 

    The shop sells a range of donated goods, clothing, homewares and accessories and also organises craft events and clubs.

    More volunteers are needed to help run the shop with tasks including pricing, sorting, window displays and serving customers.

    Anyone who is unable to attend but is interested in volunteering can ring 01795 845265 or email sue.brown@demelza.org.uk

  • Sign up now for Demelza 101 in 2017

    by User Not Found | Feb 10, 2016

    Registration is now open for the 2017 Demelza 101. So it’s time to choose – will you join Team Trekor Team Triathlon?

    With only 100 places up for grabs, be sure to signup soon if you want to join us for an incredible experience in the Lake District on 19-21 May next year.

    The triathlon comprises a two mile canoe paddle across Derwentwater, a six mile hike and 25 mile cycle. Trekkers will follow a spectacular route up Scafell and Scafell Pike taking between 6-8 hours depending on your fitness level.

    Registration costs £100 and each person must pledge to raise at least £1,000 which covers the cost of travel and accommodation as well as raising vital funds for Demelza.

    Demelza 101 2017 aims to raise £100,000 which could pay for two nurses and one care assistant for a year, and one day’s care at each of our hospices in Eltham and Sittingbourne as well as in the community across  East Sussex.

  • Swimmers take the plunge for Demelza

    by User Not Found | Feb 01, 2016
    Around 80 swimmers took part in the Snowflake Swim on Sunday 31 January in aid of #TeamDemelza

    Each swimmer was given the option of different distances from 100m (two lengths) to the premium 2km (40 lengths) or their own choice.

    In return they were given a Demelza swim cap and some well-deserved hot food and drink afterwards.

    Poppy Brown, aged seven, swam 1k as her grandmother, Rosie is a volunteer for the charity.

    She said: “My nanny told me about the event. I have been practising really hard on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I am really excited!”

    Events coordinator Gemma Murray said: “It was great to see so many people support our Snowflake Swim and really get into the spirit of the occasion by dressing up in so many different costumes. Thanks to everyone for being brave enough to take the plunge. It was a fun event with a serious intent – to raise funds to support families across South East London who need our help through our hospice in Eltham or in their own home.”

    “We always need funds to help maintain our hydrotherapy pool and pay for life guards, enabling families the chance to swim together and build precious memories.”

    Click here to view more pictures from the Snowflake Swim

  • CEO blog Jan 2016

    by User Not Found | Jan 28, 2016

    When anyone gets a new job they imagine talking about it at dinner parties. I did, when I applied for this job. I imagined what it would feel like to tell people I was CEO of a children’s hospice, and I thought about whether it suited me.

    Of course, I don’t go to or host dinner parties. I have two young children and a house decorated with crayon and playdough. I don’t have a special set of dinner plates.  And it’s not 1973.  But people do occasionally ask what I do, outside the school playground or wherever.

    When I tell them they are impressed, and so they should be, not by me but by what this wonderful organisation does. However almost without fail people tell me that they could not do what I do, because it would be too sad for them.

    But it isn’t! Well, sometimes actually it is sad, terribly sad. But even when it’s sad it’s wonderful in a way, and mostly it’s just wonderful. 

    When I’m with the children and young people who use our services, they are usually laughing and generally having a good time; or they are benefitting from our therapies, to help them manage some of their challenges. They are learning and developing and making the most of their childhoods and young adulthoods, with their families. 

    Fun, joy, love, and creating happy memories are the most important things for the families we work with. If a life might be relatively short, you make the most of it, you treasure it. It’s amazing to be part of that. 

    That’s why our new website looks like it does. That’s why ‘It’s about life’. I would be so happy if people’s automatic reaction to my job title was “Oh, that sounds like fun”. Because then they’d understand what it is actually like most of the time.  Maybe we’ll get there by the time I host my first dinner party.

  • Demelza and Kent FA make a winning team

    by User Not Found | Jan 27, 2016

    We’re over the moon about our partnership with Kent FA, supported by Kent Schools FA, in a fundraising drive that will bring together the whole football family in the county.

    We need schools, youth and adult football team and businesses throughout Kent to sign up and take part in some champion fundraising activities related to the beautiful game – with prizes for those that make it to the top of the league.

    One of our goals is to update the soft play room at our Demelza Kent hospice. This is a safe and fun space where the children in our care can relax and play using specialist sensory equipment. Your funds will help us refurbish the room and to support the great work our team of care nurses do around the clock assisting young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.

    Football-loving Lewis, 10, is one the youngsters to benefit from all that’s on offer at the hospice. He loves playing FIFA on the Xbox and swimming in the hydrotherapy pool. For Arsenal fan Lewis, from Gillingham, time spent at Demelza is a welcome break between chemotherapy sessions for leukaemia and frequent hospital admissions.

    Backing the Kent FA campaign, his mum Debbie said: “Demelza is a fantastic place for children to come to, it gives them a chance to relax and recharge themselves and also gives parents respite too. It's an invaluable service that relies on fundraising.”

    Kent FA and Kent Schools FA help provide safe and structured football opportunities for the benefit of all, and understand the importance of allowing children of all abilities to interact and play together.
    Check out the fundraising packs and fun resources to help get you started.

  • Family join stormtroopers to open furniture shop

    by User Not Found | Jan 23, 2016

    Shoppers turned out in force to see a family cared for by Demelza open our new Gillingham furniture shop.

    Seven-year-old Zak Weet and his family were joined by Stormtroopers and a queue of eager shoppers at the opening on Saturday 23 January.

    Zak, from Rochester, is profoundly deaf, has a visual impairment, is epileptic, tube fed and can’t talk or walk so needs 24 hour care. He comes to Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne for respite.

    His mum Bridget describes the support of Demelza as “life changing”.

    She said: “It gives us time to have a break when it’s got a bit much. It’s like having another family.”

    The new shop in 1-5 King Street will sell items including sofas, beds and tables all to raise funds for Demelza so we can continue to provide vital care to families across Medway and the south east of the country.

    If you have furniture to donate and would like to arrange a free collection please call 01795 503110.

    Demelza is also looking for volunteers to carry out a variety of tasks including pricing, sorting, window displays and serving customers. Anyone interested should ring 01795 845265 or email sue.brown@demelza.org.uk

  • Demelza shop returns to Herne Bay

    by User Not Found | Jan 16, 2016

    We’re delighted to announce our new charity shop in Herne Bay is now open.

    The shop at 30 William Street is just a few doors away from our old store, which closed when the lease came to end just before Christmas.

    Joining a galaxy of special guests including Minions, Stormtroopers and Darth Maul at the opening on Saturday 16 January to officially open the shop was seven-year-old Stanley and his family, who use our Sittingbourne hospice Demelza Kent for short breaks.

    Mum Claire explained the difference this makes: “Demelza is a lifeline. Stanley absolutely loves it, there’s never any worry about him when he’s there. It puts us at ease if we go away.”

    The Herne Bay shop is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am-4.30pm. Pop in to browse our wide selection of new and pre-loved fashion, homeware and accessories.

  • Will you choose trek or triathlon for #TeamDemelza?

    by User Not Found | Jan 14, 2016

    Demelza Hospice Care for Children is looking for people to take part in one of two challenges in a new Demelza 101 fundraiser.

    #TeamDemelza is taking to the Lake District in May 2017 with two challenges: a triathlon featuring a two mile canoe, a six mile trek and a 25 mile cycle ride, or a trek up Scafell, offering views of England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike.

    Registration costs £100 and each person must pledge to raise at least £1,000 which covers the cost of travel and accommodation as well as raising vital funds. There are only 100 places available.

    Demelza 101 aims to raise £100,000 which could pay for two nurses and one care assistant for a year, a day’s care at our Eltham hospice Demelza SEL, a day’s care at our Sittingbourne hospice Demelza Kent and a day care’s in the homes of children living in East Sussex.

    It is our fourth Demelza 101 event. Peter Page, who is taking part in the Demelza 101 cycle ride from Sittingbourne to Amsterdam this May, explained why he wanted to sign up:

    “I’m cycling the Demelza 101 to help raise funds for an amazing place that made the last few days of my wonderful granddaughter Isabelle Teague’s life just that little bit more bearable.  The care shown to Izzy and all my family when our own lives were falling apart helped us through that difficult time.  We all hope never to have to use Demelza but were so glad it was there for us and other families.” 

    Events co-ordinator Emma Austen said: “We are excited about offering something slightly different for our Demelza 101 challenge next year. We hope that having two different events will appeal to more of our supporters and maybe introduce a competitive element between colleagues or friends.”

    You can find out more at an information evening we’re holding at our hospice in Rook Lane, Bobbing, Sittingbourne on Tuesday 9 February at 7pm.If you would like to attend please email emma.austen@demelza.org.uk or call her on 01795 845249.

    To sign up now, go to the event page

  • Pedal for a purpose is wheely good fun

    by User Not Found | Jan 08, 2016

    Our Pedal for a Purpose bike ride is back this year after a successful launch in 2015.

    The event, on Sunday 10 April, offers three different routes for all abilities: family (10 miles), classic (52 miles) and epic (103 miles). The circular route starts and ends at Sittingbourne Greyhounds’ Central Park Stadium.

    Entrance costs £10 per adult and £5 per child for the family route, which includes a medal and a dotty wristband; £20 per person for the classic route, which includes chip timing, a medal and one feed stop; and £35 per person for the epic route, which includes chip timing, a meal and three feed stops.

    Demelza events coordinator Emma Austen said: “We were delighted to have over 300 cyclists take part in our very first Pedal for a Purpose last year and we hope even more people will want to take to two wheels in 2016. With three different routes there really is something for everyone – it’s a good chance to get fit and raise money for your local children’s hospice.”

    For more information or to sign up, visit our events section or contact Emma on 01795 845249 or at emma.austen@demelza.org.uk

  • Therapies on offer to help families cope

    by User Not Found | Jan 04, 2016

    This year is set to be another busy one for Demelza Hospice Care for Children as we continue to provide vital care and support to hundreds of children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and their families.

    One of the ways we support babies, children and young people is through a range of therapies. This has proved a great help to Matthew, 13, from Gillingham, who started art therapy at Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne as he moved from primary to secondary school. His parents were worried that Matthew, who was diagnosed with severe pulmonary hypertension and needed a heart and lung transplant when he was four, would struggle at a new school which could cope with his medical needs but where he knew no-one.

    Matthew saw Demelza art therapist Josie Mahoney once a week for over a year, using paint and clay to explore his emotions.

    “He has been able to work out his feelings and frustrations. It’s something just for him - he comes out relaxed, and it’s given him confidence,” said his mum, Sharon.

    This level of support costs a great deal of money and the majority of what we need to run our services day to day comes from donations from individuals, corporate supporters, our charity shops, our Lottery and those leaving gifts in Wills.

  • Time to spare? Join our team of volunteers

    by User Not Found | Jan 01, 2016

    If you’re looking for a new challenge in 2016, you could join the band of volunteers who make an invaluable contribution to Demelza Hospice Care for Children.

    Lynne Clark, Demelza’s head of voluntary services, said: “We really do rely on the wonderful volunteers of all ages who give up their time to support us. We are so grateful for everything they do to help, but they tell us volunteering helps them too – by allowing them to develop new skills, meet new people, have fun, and feel good about giving something back.”

    There are various ways you can help. Fundraising volunteers organise their own events, individually or as a member of a Friends group, or help out at Demelza’s busy calendar of events. Volunteers also play a huge part at our hospices, Demelza Kent in Sittingbourne and Demelza SEL in Eltham, in the catering and housekeeping teams and out in the gardens. Our 23 charity shops across Kent, South East London and East Sussex also wouldn’t be able to operate without the support of the volunteers who work under an experienced retail manager.

    Jack Sharp, 19, got the taste for volunteering after he was sent to his local Demelza shop in Herne Bay on work experience. When his two-week stint was over he immediately signed up as a full-time volunteer while he looked for work.

    “I didn’t really know what to expect, but I found I really enjoyed getting to know people of all ages and experiences at the same time as supporting a good cause,” he said.

    Jack’s dedication was recognised when he was chosen as the Charity Retail Association’s Young Volunteer of the Year 2015, a boost to his CV that helped him land a job as assistant manager at the Demelza shop in Canterbury.

     “Since coming to Demelza I have never looked back,” said Jack. “Because the staff are volunteers they really are here because they want to be, and that makes it fun.”

    To find out more about local volunteering opportunities please email volunteering@demelza.org.uk or go to the Volunteering section.