A bereaved dad is making a special documentary to shine a light on the world of children’s hospices in memory of his 11-year-old son.
Paul Woodward, a film producer and actor of Skelmersdale, was inspired by the support he and his family received from Derian House Children’s Hospice during the short life of his son, Kalel.
The feature-length film titled ‘The Little Things’ will give viewers a glimpse behind the doors of the Chorley-based hospice and casting a light on the personal stories and relationships of families, staff and volunteers.
“Derian House cared for our boy like he was one of their own,” said Paul, who runs North West film production company Old Swan Films.
“They made him so happy and gave him the opportunity to be treated like a king. They loved him for who he was and embraced the entire family.
“I have felt the desire to thank Derian for years since Kal passed away, but I haven’t known how. My hope is that our film will spread a message of love and hope, showcasing how the children at Derian House have an incredible outlook on life and can teach us all so much about finding joy in the little things that we do for each other every day.”
Kalel’s unknown condition meant he needed 24/7 care and suffered daily seizures, frequent bone fractures, and chest infections. He came to Derian House for respite stays and the family enjoyed day sessions where they made happy memories together in the pool, sensory room and cinema.
In 2019 Kalel died peacefully at home. He laid at rest in one of Derian’s special cold bedrooms – known as sunflower rooms – until his funeral, giving his family more time to say goodbye.
In the documentary, Paul hopes to encapsulate the happy memories, the positivity, and hope that he experienced during the seven years that his family was supported by Derian House.
It will cost £11,000 to fund the project, and Paul and his film crew are reaching out to kind-hearted strangers to help them achieve their goal.
Filming began at Derian House last week, with plans for the documentary to be completed early next year.
“I want this film to break down the barriers surrounding conversations about hospice care.” Paul continued.
“A hospice isn’t all about the doom and gloom it is often perceived to be, but rather the opposite. For us, and for Kalel, it was the little things – making those precious memories that we now get to keep forever. By opening the doors of Derian, we can share this love and shed light on something that is so important to many people’s lives.”
The film is being directed by Thomas Elliott Griffiths, who has previously won awards for his film Autism: A Curious Case of the Human Mind, showcasing the relationship between himself and his brother who has autism.
He said: “We want to capture the real essence of the work that Derian House does and the amazing people that come through their doors.
“I feel like this project could benefit children hospice charities all over the UK by breaking down the stigmas associated with them, and introducing the general public to the people in these environments on a more personal and human level.
“The staff at Derian House have been so welcoming and helpful for our team to navigate this subject matter. I hope our film does Derian and their families justice.”
The crew also consists of Cameron Brown, cinematographer and Richard Garland, sound mixer.
Caroline Taylor, Head of Income, Marketing and Communications at Derian House, said: “We are so grateful to Paul and his team for their generosity in giving up their time and using their talent to help us show the world what a wonderful place Derian House really is.
“Many people hear the word hospice and imagine a sad place, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sad things do happen here sometimes, but our staff and volunteers work hard to create special moments and memories for the families who come here and our corridors are filled with love. You cannot help but feel the warmth and joy when you come into Derian House – it’s a very special place, and to show the world that would be fantastic.”
The campaign to fund the project launched on Monday (17 July) with a short video. Watch here.
By donating just £10, supporters will get to see their names in the film credits.
And for £150, two supporters will get to experience the magic of Derian House’s very own cinema.
Supporters can also watch the film before anyone else for £75, get unseen bonus content for £100, or be named as an official project sponsor for £1,000.
Based in Chorley, Lancashire, Derian House cares for more than 400 babies, children, young people and their families from across the North West and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While it is free for families, it will cost £6million to run services at Derian House in 2023.