The theme for this year’s UK Children’s Hospice Week is ‘moments that matter’, shining a light on all the services that help families create special memories together. St Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle has been caring for 10-year-old Jessica Gray for nine years. When staff found out Jessica’s mum was planning to marry, they did all they could to make sure her wedding day would be extra special.
Jessica has complex health needs including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, scoliosis, respiratory needs and is registered blind. Her mum Laura, says:
“Without St Oswald’s support I don’t think our wedding would have been possible. I get a lot of emotional support from my family but physically, Jessica’s needs means it is very difficult for anyone other than me to support her.
“This is where St Oswald’s has stepped in; it’s the only place we get support from and I don’t know where we’d be without them. On my wedding day St Oswald’s staff went over and above to help. The day before the wedding I took Jessica to the hospice, staff brought her to the wedding, and in the evening Jessica was brought back to the hospice to be cared for.
“This meant that I could do things like get my nails done and pick up my dress, like every other bride would do. On the day of the wedding, one of the members of staff even stayed later after her night shift so she could do Jessica’s hair.
Jessica is cared for at the hospice for four nights a month. She absolutely loves her stays, her face lights up every time because she recognises the sound the doors make when they open. There’s so much she enjoys – trips out, sensory activities, music therapy and the therapy pets that visit.
“And for me, I get time to relax. If Jessica is at St Oswald’s over the weekend I sometimes go out with friends, which would be impossible without the hospice’s support.”
Jocelyn Thompson, Children and Young Adults Service Manager at St Oswald’s, says:
“It is very important to us that our children are involved in every aspect of their family’s life. And at the hospice, we help to make this a reality by creating special and memorable moments for families.
“We appreciate how challenging day-to-day life can be for families, so we do all we can to help them while their child is in our care. It was our pleasure to prepare Jessica for her Mum’s special day, getting her in to a lovely new dress, a special hair-do and manicured nails. The nurses from St Oswald’s who were invited to the wedding were made to feel so welcome by the family and enjoyed the special day as much as Jessica.’’
For more information visit St Oswald’s Hospice
Children’s Hospice Week runs until June 23