Nurse Fiona Andrews worked at Derian House Children’s Hospice for 27 years, since the charity first opened its doors in 1993.
Looking back on her career, Fiona said: “Has it really been 30 years since the hospice opened? I only came for a year to see how it would go – and there I was, still around 27 years later.
“It was a privilege to work at the hospice; it has been a huge part of my working life. It has helped many families over the years and still supports many families – many still come back year after year to the Forget Me Not service.
“I always enjoyed the work – I was in the care team but I did various jobs there over the years.
“I have seen Derian change and progress. I remember when the Lodge facility was first built for the older children and young people – it gave them their own space to be a bit more independent.
“The refurbishment of the hospice in 2019 was a fantastic improvement. The sensory room is an amazing facility as well as the open plan messy play zone.
“The sensory garden has transformed many times over the years and I can’t wait to see what the new one looks like.”
When asked to share some of her most memorable moments at Derian House, Fiona said: “I have some many memories but one that stays with me is the chocolate button story.
“A poorly little girl was staying at Derian and she had decided that she would only eat dry bread and chocolate buttons, and we had run out of chocolate buttons. So, we called the local police to ask where we could find the nearest all night petrol station. It’s the only way we could’ve found out then.
“20 minutes later, the doorbell rang and Chorley police officers turned up with chocolate buttons and were pushing them through the letterbox!
“I remember the time when somebody decided to get rabbits for the children.” Fiona continued.
“One of the nurses said she was happy to look after the rabbits, but of course when she wasn’t on duty the rest of us had to look after them – and I’m not a very pet-friendly person.
“One night, and it must have been summer because it was still light outside, all those blooming rabbits escaped. So there I was, running furiously up and down the garden trying to catch them – oh it was awful, absolutely awful!” laughed Fiona. “Anyway I managed to capture them and put them back in the end.”
“All sorts has happened at Derian House. We had a wedding there once.” Said Fiona.
“The parents of a little girl who visited the hospice had their wedding party there. We got their little girl all dressed up in her finery. We took photos out on the lawn and Trish the cook did a buffet for them. That was a really lovely memory. It was an absolutely beautiful day in the summer.
“Another memory I have is when drove all the way to Scarborough and back in one day for a mum and her poorly son. We went in the big red bus that we had and had a barbeque when we got there.
“Every year some of the children visit Kielder Water and Forest Park for a week’s holiday. One year, I decided to go with them to help out – so off we went in the big red bus. I went to a lot of places in that big red bus.
“We had a lovely week, but as we went through the gates, it was as if all the midges on the site were calling “Fiona’s here!” I was absolutely bitten to bits with them. But we did have a lovely week – it wasn’t as rotten as I’m making it sound. The young people went down a zip wire – not me! I was the coat holder but it was nice to see the children and young people enjoying themselves.
“I have a lot of memories at Derian House – too many to share. We would have gala days on the field and the families and volunteers would all help out. I have known a lot of families over the years and remember all of their stories, but those stories belong to them.
“People have come and gone, as they always do, but no one ever forgets the magic of Derian House.”