Dennis' family can’t wait for Christmas after months of shielding at home with son and little brother Dennis. Dennis, who turns five in December, is the youngest of five siblings, has Down’s syndrome and a multitude of other serious health problems which make him extremely vulnerable.
Despite facing so much in his short life, mum Helen describes her little boy as a ‘survivor’ who ‘takes everything in his stride.' Dennis spent his first Christmas in hospital, which was a deeply worrying and anxious time for his parents and four older siblings. But, with the help of Demelza, the family have made subsequent years magical and full of fun, with pantomime shows, Christmas crafts and parties with other Demelza families and trips to the Kent hospice to see all of festive lights on display.
Mum Helen, said: “The decorations at Demelza are beautiful – there are lights everywhere and it’s so Christmassy. Last year, while we were at Demelza, local bikers delivered Christmas presents for the children – Dennis loved it.” Christmas will look different this year but the family know that Demelza will make it the best it can possibly be for Dennis, following the hardest of months.
The first lockdown was busy for Helen caring for Dennis in the safety of the family’s home. Demelza stepped in by adapting our services online; offering Friday ‘coffee and chat’ sessions which helped to reduce the isolation that Helen was feeling. And with lockdown and shielding delaying Dennis’ start in reception at school, the online sessions helped to life his spirits enormously.
“Music therapy is a must for us,” says Helen. “I whack up the sound while Dennis lies on the sofa. His hearing is impaired but he feels the vibrations through the sofa. He also loves attending the under 5s Little Dots virtual sessions and the props are getting more and more flamboyant – Dennis loves it.”
Dennis is now looking forward to festive-themed virtual sessions throughout December, and rumour has it, Santa himself will be making a special appearance. What’s more, thanks to generous supporters who donate to our Christmas appeal, Demelza Elves will be delivering a special present to Dennis and hundreds of other children like him.
Helen added: “We love a Demelza Christmas. We usually have a respite stay booked in for the first weekend of December. Although this can’t happen this year, we’re really looking forward to all the other magical things Demelza have planned.
“And lots of decorations and a tree will go up at home; the place that has kept Dennis safe for all these months. Sometimes the simple things in life get overlooked – and there’s always next year.”