Bestselling author and children’s nutritionist Annabel Karmel dropped into Julia's House in Devizes to meet some of the children and share some tasty chocolate chip cookies.
A patron and long-standing supporter of the charity, she knows personally how important the respite and end-of-life care kit provides is for local families. Her infant daughter, Natasha, died of encephalitis after developing a viral infection when she was just three months old.
“My daughter died in hospital, but I would have liked to have had somewhere like the Julia’s House children’s hospice to come and take her,” she said.
“In those times when you feel so desperate, to have a room where you can be with your child when they’re coming to the end of their life and to spend time by a memorial fountain like this one here – it would have been very comforting.
“They are very special moments in your life that you’ll never forget. Horrible moments, but at the same time the last memories you have of your child,” she explained. “So I think what Julia’s House and their nurses and carers offer here is amazing.”
Julia’s House gives free and regular specialist support to the growing number of local families, who are caring for a very seriously ill child with a life-limiting or life-shortening condition.
On her visit Annabel took her three happy dogs – Skye, Bono and Pushkin – to meet Carmela Chillery-Watson and Kyle Truman. She also shared some homemade chocolate chip cookies, made from a recipe in her new Fun, Fast & Easy Children’s Cookbook.
Carmela, from Market Lavington, loved taking Skye for a walk around the accessible hospice garden and enjoyed Annabel’s cookie. The eight-year-old has a rare and heart-breaking form of muscular dystrophy, affecting just one child in a million, which causes her muscles to waste away over time.
Annabel said, “It was lovely to meet Carmela and Kyle, and explore all the facilities and garden here. I was involved in fundraising for the hospice when it was first built around five years ago, so it’s brilliant to see how it’s being used today. It’s such a happy and wonderful place for families to come.”
Chief executive, Martin Edwards, said, “I first met Annabel in 2012 when she presented the Healthcare Charity of the Year national award to Julia’s House. She has been a wonderful Patron and supporter for Julia’s House ever since and it was a pleasure to show her around the hospice and introduce her to some of the children and to our team.
“As a charity, we receive just eight per cent ongoing Government funding, so we’re incredibly grateful to our Patrons for helping to raise awareness and to the public for sustaining our lifeline of care for the most seriously ill children and their families.”
Find out more about Julia’s House at .juliashouse.org