It’s time to blow out the birthday candles! Derian House Children’s Hospice is today celebrating 30 years of helping seriously ill children and their families to make the most of every moment.
Today (11 October 2023) marks three decades since the hospice was officially opened by the Duchess of Norfolk, Lavinia Fitzalan-Howard, and welcomed in its first child in 1993.
To celebrate, the charity has been delving into its past – with young people, families, staff, volunteers and supporters all sharing their favourite memories of the hospice.
Derian House’s 30 stories for 30 years are available to read on the charity’s website www.derianhouse.co.uk/30-stories-for-30-years/
“Derian House wraps its arms around the whole family. Even now, years after we lost Sarah, we still think of Derian House as our second home,” said bereaved mum, Lynda Pim, in her memories of Derian House.
Lynda’s daughter Sarah Heyworth endured a five-year battle with a severe bone cancer which began in her tibia. At the age of 13, Sarah, a talented dancer, had her left leg amputated and learned to walk with an artificial limb before being told that the cancer had spread to her lungs.
At the age of 16, Sarah moved into Derian House and spent eight weeks with her family before passing away peacefully in February 2004.
“The hospice has played a huge part in all of our lives during the time that Sarah was ill. I can’t believe that it is now celebrating its 30th year,” said Lynda.
“The staff at Derian were like an extended family – they laughed and cried with us. We couldn’t possibly have managed without their wonderful love and support. We will always hold a place in our hearts for the staff and volunteers who make Derian House a warm caring environment, full of love and laughter for all the children and families who walk through the doors.”
Trish Wiggans, of Euxton, was the first ever cook at Derian House when it first opened in 1993, and she cooked numerous breakfasts, lunches, brunches, and dinners for families over 15 years.
“It was the best job I ever had,” said Trish, who spotted the job in the Chorley Guardian in 1993.
“Each time a family visited, I would note down their favourite food. So when I knew they were coming in, I knew what they liked and that would go on the menu. Food and emotion are tied closely. There is comfort in food, and in the routines around food. We would always make something comforting – egg and chips was always welcome.
“At Derian House the families were always lovely, the staff were great, and it was a good time. It really is a very special place.”
The hospice’s longest serving volunteer, Val Sharp, has done everything from manning reception to helping out at Family Day Care sessions since 1993.
“Derian just gives you such a nice feeling. It puts everything in perspective for you,” said Val.
“I have so many memories. We have had so many fun days out with the siblings. We have laughed a lot. All the families at Derian are amazing and so resilient. They give so much back themselves. And the freedom young people have at the hospice, the friendships they make – the quality of life that they get at Derian is incredible.
“I would like to thank Derian for the support, encouragement and hugs they have given me over the last 30 years. I am extremely grateful.”
Derian House continues to provide care to more than 400 babies, children and young people with life-limiting illnesses from across the North West, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Karen Edwards OBE, Chief Executive Officer at Derian House, said: “We’re all very proud to celebrate 30 years of care at Derian House Children’s Hospice.
“Derian House is a special place where families can make the very most of the time they have and this has only been possible thanks to the hard work of our staff and volunteers, as well as the fundraising efforts of our supporters.
“It has been incredible to read everyone’s memories of the hospice over the years – they help to paint a picture of how things have changed since Derian House’s small beginnings in 1993. But it is clear one thing hasn’t changed – the compassion and care that we provide for families.
“I would like to thank everyone who has helped Derian House grow into the charity it is today, and cannot wait to continue to develop our services to help more families in the future.”
To read all 30 stories that delve into the history of Derian House, visit: https://www.derianhouse.co.uk/30-stories-for-30-years/