This year marks 25 years since Demelza’s original hospice was opened by Derek and Jennifer Phillips, in memory of their daughter Demelza who tragically died of a brain tumour, at the age of 24. We spoke to Demelza’s brother, Adam Phillips, about his participation in our upcoming Grate Descent challenge and what it means to him that we’re still offering extraordinary care to extraordinary children, all these years later.
“I actually did an abseil challenge 25 years ago for Demelza! Back then it was to raise money to open the doors of the first hospice, in memory of my sister. One little boy sent us a cardboard Smarties tube filled with 20p pieces – he’d saved up his pocket money until the tube was full because he’d heard about our mission and wanted to help. That really stuck with me.
It feels appropriate that now, all these years later, I’m taking on another abseil in support of Demelza – this time I’ll be abseiling down The Leadenhall Building in London, otherwise known as the Cheese Grater! Demelza’s Grate Descent is all about facing your fears for a good cause, and I’ll certainly be facing mine as I can’t stand heights. The descent is about 730 feet (just a bit different from the one I did 25 years ago)!
What hasn’t changed since that time, though, is the fervent kindness and generosity of Demelza’s supporters; Demelza never would have come this far without them. I couldn’t have dreamed when my family opened the hospice so long ago that this charity would become what it is today, and it’s impossible not to be grateful and humbled to see how far it has come.”