Julie, 63, was a teacher for 34 years at Balshaws high school in Leyland before she decided to retire.
Since then, Julie and her husband Tony have been volunteering at Derian since 2015 and have helped out in the kitchen, in the fundraising team, and on School’s Out trips as well as setting up their own community hub.
Throughout the year, their Chorley Champions group organise numerous events and activities like coffee mornings, Christmas Bingo and car boot sales to help raise money for the children and young people at Derian House.
Julie said: “I knew about Derian back when I was at school; we used to fundraise for them. The logo was a dog back then.
“Tony and I have done a lot of fundraising for Derian since we retired. One of my favourite memories was when we visited a line-dancing club in Brierfield, called Cactus, who have done a lot of fundraising for Derian House over the years. Tony and I turned up to collect a cheque during their line-dancing fundraiser and they asked us to join them in the first dance.
“They told us “Oh, don’t worry it’s dead easy.” Said Julie. “I’m not bad at dancing, but my husband Tony… Every time we went one way, he turned the other. They’ve never asked us to do a dance since.”
“My favourite memories are joining Schools Out during the school holidays with the children and young people. When you’re with them and you see the Wellbeing and Play Team with the kids – it’s just brilliant. Often when were on days out we’re in fits of laughter.
“I’ve been on quite a few trips out with the Schools Out group.” Said Julie. “One day we went to a farm and I was pushing one of the boys along in his wheelchair. We were walking along and we spotted a llama, so we moved closer to get a closer look and the thing started spitting at us! I had to push the wheelchair so fast to get away. The little lad thought it was hilarious and he said “I’ve never been that fast before” – that was good fun.
“One week in summer, the kids were having water fights in the garden and I hadn’t brought a spare t-shirt. I was filling my gun up and one lad came up behind with a bucket and poured it all over me. I was absolutely soaked wet through and had to go and borrow a Derian fundraising t-shirt. It was very funny.
“I love just being with the kids, some of the things they say to you are quite poignant really. You realise why Derian is so special because you know those kids will be cared for through the next steps in their lives – Derian will be here for them. That’s what Derian is all about, the caring.
“Derian House isn’t what you think – it’s a happy atmosphere because we’re all making so many memories for the families and the grandparents and the friends. It’s a lovely place.”