Local children’s hospice charity steps out to mark 20 years of caring

Julia’s House has been providing essential respite care for local seriously ill children and their families for 20 years, with staff and supporters marking this milestone on Saturday 1 April, the anniversary of its first ever respite session.

On this special day, the charity’s CEO, Martin Edwards, joined Diana Lawrence, one of the first families supported by Julia’s House, as she walked 21 miles in tribute to her sister, Gabby, on what would have been Gabby’s 21st birthday.   Diana and Martin were joined by Ruby McEvoy, whose family are also supported by Julia’s House, as well as the hospice’s Director of Care, Claire-Hudson Cooper, charity trustee, Jacquie Irvine and fundraisers Caroline Attreed and Sarah Agnew.

“It is important to mark this milestone of care not only for Julia’s House, but for the many families we have cared for over the last two decades.  We also want to say a huge thank you to the committed supporters and volunteers without whom we would not have been able to provide this critical care and to all our staff who have made it possible for us to be there for local families every day,” said charity CEO Martin Edwards.

“And it felt just as important to walk side-by-side with Diana, whom we have known since she was a very young child, and continue to support her as she took on her epic challenge in memory of Gabby and her mum, Maria, who she tragically lost just a couple of years after Gabby died.   It is for families just like Diana’s that the care we provide has been a lifeline, helping the whole family – from a child with highly complex medical needs or a sibling who needs someone to share their difficult world to parents and grandparents who are struggling to cope with the challenges of caring 24/7.   They don’t get our kind of individually-tailored care anywhere else.”

Julia’s House first began as the dream of paediatric nurse, Julia Perks, who wanted be able to offer care for the local families of seriously ill children, and was founded after Julia died by her friend, local councillor, Mike Wise MBE.   Now, the charity has a hospice in both Dorset and Wiltshire and a team of nurses and carers that support families at the hospice, at home or in hospital, the length and breadth of each county – last year they delivered over 16,000 hours of specialist care to 188 local children and their families.

More seriously ill children requiring care and support
More children are being born and living longer with increasingly complex medical conditions requiring around the clock care, so the vital respite breaks Julia’s House gives to families couldn’t be more critical.  Across the UK, there are three times as many children and young people living with life-limiting conditions than there were 20 years ago and it is estimated that number could grow by a further 50 per cent over the coming decade.*
*(source: Together for Short Lives)

“We never want to have to turn an exhausted family away and want to ensure we are always there for them,” says Claire Hudson-Cooper, Julia’s House Director of Care.  “We are so grateful for all the support from the local community over the last 20 years, which has enabled us to not only deliver our care, but also to expand our service to meet growing demand.

“We will continue to need this support to help shape our future and be able to care for more children with increasingly complex conditions, support the whole family with a wide and ever-changing range of needs and partner with NHS healthcare services to provide more choice for families when their child reaches the end of their life.”

Julia’s House care starts when a seriously ill child and their family are first referred to the children’s hospice and the service continues to support the family for up to five years after their child has died.  The charity relies on public support to provide over 90 per cent of its income – it only receives eight per cent Government funding.


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