For most of us, when we look back on our childhood, we have great memories. We can look through our family photo albums, laugh at the silly clothes we wore, name old friends, remember birthday parties we went to and games we played. Most of us can switch on one of our favourite childhood films (mine is probably “Big” with Tom Hanks) and immediately, we feel 12 years old, and relax like we did during the school holidays. Or it might be that we decided to sample some sweets that we frequently enjoyed as a child – for me it is Wham bars, those pink, chewy, tooth-pulling toffee-like bars that I bought from the sweet kiosk at my local park – and we find ourselves transported to the days when we rode our bikes for miles and miles, didn’t worry about much at all and could spend ages playing instead of working.
My childhood was pretty standard – happy with occasional moments of difficulty. I have some amazingly positive memories that far, far outweigh the negative, and one of my favourite things to do it to reminise, look at old photos and reflect on how fortunate I have been…I remember…colouring, cutting and sticking, bringing rock cakes home from school, family weddings when I got to wear a pretty dress, making Christmas cards with loads of glitter, jigsaw puzzles, offensively bright-coloured lollies, an amazing Sindy house and swimming pool, getting excited about the ice cream van coming down the street, hide and seek, school Summer fetes, Saturday morning kids’ TV, going to Brownies, a My Little Pony stable, my parents telling me that I was going to be a big sister, genuine excitement over my streamer-decorated garden birthday parties, meeting my baby brother for the first time, family holidays by the sea, great mix tapes made by my dad. All good memories…
Of course, like most children, occasional sickness was part and parcel of my childhood too. I have very early memories of ear aches and tummy bugs, when my mum would look after me with cuddles and Calpol, that magic potion that cured all ills, and I even recall going to hospital to have my adenoids removed. I remember falling off my bike and Mum putting a plaster on my knee, and splitting my eyebrow open and having stitches at the hospital. A nasty case of Chicken Pox invaded one holiday by the sea in Dorset when I was 7…but I was never seriously ill. My mum has memories of a nasty case of Scarlet Fever that meant she was isolated from her family for 6 weeks when she was only 8 years old. Our own daughter spent a week or so in hospital age 11, when her appendix burst and both of our boys were premature and spent a week each in the Special Care Baby Unit. But, we have been very fortunate that none of us have known serious or life-threatening illness over a sustained period of time.
This month, here at Hope Law, we are championing the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice. The hospice is a beautiful place, a newly-built, fully-equipped residential hospice for children with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. The hospice provides care, both on site and in the homes of unwell children through nursing care, sensory experience and respite care for children and their families. These families have often know a long period of sickness or disability for their children, and some are facing the end of their children’s lives. For those children who are disabled, they may not have ever experienced playing on the soft sand of a beach, or riding a bike with friends, eating sweets paid for with their pocket money, or running towards the ice cream van for a Feast or Screwball ice cream. And for their parents, they may never have experienced leaving their child at a friend’s house to play or a full-night’s sleep, or waving their child off on a school trip.
Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice provide precious and rare opportunities for children and their families to relax together and laugh together as well as having time with friends, and times of independence, with the reassurance and security of expert medical care and state-of-the-art medical equipment. We are so glad to be supporting, championing and giving to Alexander Devine’s Children’s Hospice this month. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for regular features and if you would like to learn more and make a donation, head to our Making A Difference page here.