Growing up, Lesley Haydock lived with her parents and brother Gareth on Buckshaw Hall Close in Astley Village, not far from where Derian House Children’s Hospice now sits.
Lesley, of Eccleston, is the daughter of Ian Haydock, who co-founded Derian House children’s hospice.
Ian had the idea to found a children’s hospital after his family lost his brother, Derek, to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) in 1969, aged just 19 – a time when there were very few hospices in the country for children.
Lesley said: “I remember my dad coming home one day and saying “I want to start a children’s hospice”. That’s the first memory I have of it.
“When my mum kindly explained to eight-year-old me what “hospice” meant, she said it’s going to be for children – because nan and grandad didn’t have the support they needed for uncle Derek.
“And she said that’s why we’re calling it Derian – for Derek and Ian. And here’s what it’s going to do – it’s going to provide support for seriously ill children and give them whatever they need. It will be somewhere to go – a special place where children can get personalised care.
“Dad always said it would be a happy place – one of the happiest places imaginable.”
“And so it began.” Leslie continued.
“First, my mum and dad had to raise enough to register as a charity.
“There was no internet back then, so I remember my dad going to the printers on Steeley Lane and ordering 3,000 A5 leaflets.
“I remember getting out and delivering those leaflets, I loved it. We would start in Buckshaw and work our way out.
“I remember telling people at the bus stop, I was telling my teachers, I was telling anyone that would listen. Mum and dad always explained that we had to get people involved.
“Then gradually, people started ringing up saying they wanted to help.
“Then the papers started phoning. One of them wanted to follow the hospice as it progressed because people were taking it seriously at that point.
“More and more people got involved and we ended up with a Leyland committee and a Chorley committee. I have a photo of all the people who stuck it through, right from the beginning.
“They used to hire out the Conservative Club at Leyland and do a jumble sale every weekend, and I remember them coming home and going “ooh, we made £13 this week.” You know, it sounds silly now.
“Our nan, Iris Haydock, had cancer over 11 years, but she was still there at Leyland Con Club helping out at the jumble sale every week to raise money for Derian.
“Bernard manning helped out a lot when they were raising money to get the charity registered. He put on a charity night at his embassy club in Manchester and all the proceeds went to Derian. My mum was not prepared to be on the front row at a Bernard manning gig.” Laughed Lesley.
“As the awareness of Derian grew, whenever I watched any celebrity TV shows at Christmas I was always glued to the screen to see if anyone was doing anything for Derian House. I was always cheering my dad on.
“It started off so slowly, but then at some point the charity quickly began to get noticed.
“Before I knew it all of our school fundraisers became about Derian House.
“I remember my dad got a letter from Princess Diana – handwritten too. I don’t know what happened to that. It’s probably still in the attic at our old house on Buckshaw Hall Close.
“I remember my dad making his own headed letter paper using a letraset – you don’t hear of them anymore. You would use them to transfer letters onto paper. He went through a lot of those sets. He even got a gold set to use to write to Buckingham Palace.
“It took the Derian house 5 years to transform from an idea to the beginnings of a building. Which is great, considering there was no internet back then.
“They chose that spot in Astley Village because it was empty, it was for sale, and it was on our doorstep. I have a photo where you can see that it has only been half built.
“The next thing we knew, Ken Dodd was on his way to dig the first bit turf for the building. I met him and everything. I’ve been his number one fan ever since.
“That was one week before my nan died – she passed away on 13 June 1992. My grandad was caring for her at home. She was quite poorly so it was bittersweet.
“Before we all knew it, Derian had a building.
“I was there at the hospice on the day they opened it. It was a lot different then – there was only one building. I haven’t been in until now. It looks amazing after all the changes it has had over the years. I felt quite emotional when I had a look around. It’s just incredible to think that my dad started all of this.
“Dad was very humble about what he did, but he was very passionate about the charity. He’d do anything for Derian House.
“We lost mum first and dad less than a year later. Mum passed away on the same day as Derian’s co-founder, Margaret Vinten. They were both in the newspaper together.
“When my dad passed away we decided to raise money for Derian House in his honour. My daughter, Carrie Anne, who was around 16 at the time, had everyone in her class at college contribute. She got something out of everyone she came across – whether it was a pound, 50p, anything. I was very proud of her. Friends and family contributed too.
“I’m glad that I can hold onto the memories I have. My brother and I are incredibly proud of everything that our parents did to help get Derian House up and running. I can’t believe 30 years has flown by. I wish all the best to everyone at Derian House – the families, the staff, the volunteers, and all of the supporters. You are amazing.”