Unusually, for me, I have not blogged much this week. I have been busy with all sorts…but here I am now with a later than usual post today. This comes ahead of my mammoth gym challenge next week and on that note, I have something really important to share.
Next week I will be posting here sporadically, sometimes in the afternoon, as I will be spending most of my time at the gym, in a rare week off writing! So if I don’t post on here, expect lots of pictures the following week, but will try to check in!
When I decided to do this gym challenge it was because after two and a half years at the gym (5 days a week), some 50 inches smaller, and finding the new love of my life there… ❤ as well as some amazing friends, it had a much more profound effect on my life than I had ever expected. And so I wanted to use that in another positive way.
Like most of us, I was eating a bit more before Christmas and had cut some classes owing to workload, so a new year meant stepping it back up to 12 classes a week and taking stock of my diet. Tick. But it also meant a new challenge, and so we chose, friend, Raymond, and I, to do ALL the classes on the weekly Lifestyle Fitness timetable! 38 classes! Raymond’s own journey has been truly inspirational! In just over a year he has lost six and a half stone and his change in lifestyle came after he almost lost his wife to cancer. He is amazing. He already does 20 plus classes. He will walk it! I might crawl a bit!
So, having both had our own experiences with cancer, I lost Lee, thankfully Raymond’s wife, Yvonne, is now in remission, we decided that a local hospice charity was the way to go. The people at Havens Hospices have been so supportive and invited Raymond and myself to have a look around Little Havens; the children’s hospice that was purpose-built about eighteen years ago. It’s based in Hadleigh, Essex, in a rural setting.
I wasn’t sure what I really expected when we went there yesterday. I knew they made it ‘fun’ and colourful with murals on the walls etc. for children, but I also expected it to feel more like an adult hospice, more clinical like a hospital. I had no idea how amazing this place is and the many many things it does for families. You could say that the visit changed me, Raymond said that too. They do everything to make it not like a hospital. You’d think a place like that would be more about dying… think again. This is a place that is very much about LIVING — no matter how short a life that might be.
The gardens, that each of the rooms has private access to, are amazing and sensory — all designed around wildlife. Such a peaceful place too. It was cold yesterday but I can only imagine the fun there the in the summer.
They do all they can to make it peaceful, happy, fun despite the serious side to what happens there. Families can stay. There is a p0ol for hydrotherapy, complementary therapy room for children and their families, lounge areas, a kitchen, they encourage families to sit down and eat together. There is a teenage wing with a games room for them and an area for barbecues as they have identified that their needs will be different to the younger ones. They try to make life as ‘normal’ as they can. The sensory rooms are great too to help children who need to connect to their world this way. There is a music room, computers, play therapists, a chapel. Since many children do live longer with advances in medicine, some reach nineteen which is the upper age limit, and actually have a graduation ceremony before being moved to the adult hospice, Fairhavens.
At the heart of the hospice is a special suite called The Woodland Suite and we were asked if we were okay about visiting it, naturally since it was not in use yesterday. Let me explain — it’s the place for families to be with their children when they have passed away. We did want to see and it’s a special and peaceful place. We were encouraged to sit around the bed as we were told about the room and how most families have use of it for up to seven days at the passing of their child. We were asked if we had any questions… but there was nothing to say. I think we all felt the sadness of those moments. They have robins, toy ones in the room. When a child is in that room, these sit out in the main area of the hospice as a sign of respect and to let people know someone is in there. When the family leaves the door ajar it’s a sign they want people to come in, to offer support, otherwise they close the door and are left to their own grief.
We also went into the chapel which welcomes all faiths if needed. But the area is also used for graduations and for its acoustic properties for music. There are books in there and every child that has passed is remembered in there with a page designed by family members. We sat there quietly reading the names with a lump in the throat.
While the end of life care is really only 20% of what happens there; since they offer respite and all kinds of treatment to these special children, this reminds us all of the fragility of life. We know of loss; I know the pain of losing someone I truly loved, but to lose a child, who has yet to live is… well I might be a writer but there is no word big enough for a pain so huge you could fall inside it. But we have to talk about this and we have to know it happens every day, and I think this wonderful places with its thousand plus volunteers is testament to the power of love and giving and making these families as comfortable and as ‘happy’ as they can be.
What I felt as I finished the visit and we took photos at the main reception was that what Raymond and I are doing, what sounded like a hard but fun challenge, for what… six days… is nothing compared to what these people suffer. And being there and seeing it, the children’s hospice needs 2.6 million a year to run, made it all the more real. So we won’t raise thousands, maybe two or three hundred if we’re lucky…. but it all helps and it all makes a difference and we hope we will inspire others to do similar things. To come along to its open day in June and to get involved. We have changed our lives around by adopting a fitter healthier lifestyle… these children and adults under the care of this amazing charity don’t have that luxury. But the hospices make these places about making the most of everything; of making every second count. And that does relate to every single one of us. So please help, whatever you can do or donate will make a difference.
And that’s why we’re doing this.
To sponsor us here is the JustGiving Link: Please help if you can. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LifestyleFitness6DayChallenge
You can also text LSFG60 following by the amount from £1 to £10 to 70070.
Myself (in the hat — again) Raymond and my dad on our visit yesterday. And yes I am on a rocking horse! Couldn’t resist!
Thank you so much, please share this post and see how much we can raise 🙂