“The 54 children's hospices around the UK support families during their darkest times. But with over 99,000 seriously ill children, hospices are struggling to raise the funds they need to continue the vital work they do.” – Francesca
Kicking off at the beginning of Children’s Hospice Week in June, children’s nurse Francesca took on an epic 3200-mile cycle to visit each one of the 54 children’s hospices across the UK. She hoped to raise awareness about children’s hospice care, as well £500k in funds for their vital services – and after Henry’s death, the son of her good friends Hua and Sam, she dedicated the challenge to him.
“As a children’s nurse I’ve seen first-hand what these children and families go through every day, and then I was on the other side of that journey with Henry,” said Francesca. “I saw the difference children’s hospice care makes; it’s life-changing. It means the world to know Demelza have a whole troupe of supporters out there, helping us make sure they can do the specialist work that they do.”
Hua, Henry’s dad joined her on the Demelza leg of her cycle – from Demelza’s Kent hospice in Sittingbourne to our South East London hospice in Eltham – to support her and her inspiring mission. “It’s impossible not to be inspired by Francesca; after five minutes with her, you’ll want to be involved because she’s so passionate,” said Hua. “After so many years of friendship, we’re honoured she’s dedicated this challenge to Henry and the support he received at Demelza. Henry would be so proud.”
She also dedicated her cycle to children she helped care for as a children’s nurse; like little Joshua, who she met during her time working at London Evelina Children’s Hospital. Joshua also came to Demelza for end-of-life care at just five months old. “There is no doubt that losing Joshua has been the most traumatic part of our lives,” said Joshua’s mum, Vicky, “but having the support of Demelza, Francesca and nurses like her has really pulled us through. I don't think we would be in the position we are today without them.”
Joshua’s family were there to cheer Francesca on as she set off from Sittingbourne, along with dozens of Demelza staff and volunteers – and the uproar continued when they arrived in London, as Demelza’s very own cheer squad celebrated their incredible efforts.
So far Francesca’s journey has received donations from over 800 generous supporters; if you’d like to learn more about her mission and how you can help, visit www.chatukproject.com