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Julia’s House – Dorset Children’s Hospice

"Winter Wonderland" shoot at Julia's House near Poole in Dorset

At a recent BNI meeting, I met someone who worked for a local children's hospice, Julia's House. After chatting for a while, I mentioned that I would like to do something for the kids. Perhaps in the way of a photo-shoot and she said she would get back to me.

I had my reasons behind wanting to do this. Out of all the charities there are around here, I don't think there are many more important and more "emotionally challenging" than charities for sick and dying children. Sure, there are other worthy charities, but this one resonated something on a deeper level.

Whenever I watch Children in Need on the BBC in the UK, I am not ashamed to say that I shed a tear sometimes. When they show some of the films, and this has happened a lot more since I have had kids of my own, I become quite emotional. I feel truly blessed and fortunate. Apart from a couple of head cuts, a broken arm and the occasional bump, bruise, scrape or cold, my kids are pretty healthy and happy.

Last week, I received an email and phone call from a representative of Julia's House saying they had an open day called "Winter Wonderland" coming up in Poole. They asked if I would like to come along and record the day. As the day approached, I found myself wondering how I would cope and how I would feel.

It is now Monday and I did the shoot yesterday

I have to give a huge shout out to all the staff and volunteers at Julia's House. Incredible people. I was shown around all the rooms and facilities at Julia's House and have to say it is beautiful. You would never feel that this house has any connection to illness. Each room is carefully designed to be just like a home from home for the kids.

Then at the church, I watched and filmed as the volunteers prepared everything for the day's events and before I knew it, it was done. The preparation, communication, organisation and dedication to getting it all looking fab was a marvel to watch.

Now, I cannot show any of the footage or images of the kids at the charity's request but what I can say was…

Julia's House Cakes

The food was beautiful!

Julia's House Jack Frost

Jack Frost coming along to give out presents to all the children was lovely.

They also had a staged area for a short "sensory story" about a penguin that leaves for Spain (2 showings) and it was excellent.

There was also a:

  • DJ playing great music
  • Singer and guitarist
  • Sibling hang out area
  • check
    Face painting
  • check
    A hall dedicated to arts and crafts

It was all finished off with prize giving for the best fancy dress.

I spoke to many of the children. Both those attending Julia's House and their siblings and I loved every minute of it. I think due to the adrenaline pumping through my veins when doing any job like this (I am the same at weddings), my emotions didn't come into play at all. After all, this was a happy occasion and everyone was having a great time.

On the way home however, I am not ashamed to say that as I relaxed, I went into meltdown. Like any family, we have had our share of tragedies such as cancer, untimely deaths and so on. However, not much compares to seeing what some of these kids are going through, it's just not right.

What can you do?

Now the reason I am including this in the newsletter is certainly not for recognition. After seeing what the staff and volunteers do every day, day in day out, taking a few photos and shooting a bit of video is NOTHING! The reasons I am writing about it are:

  • To document it for myself
  • To raise awareness…
  • ...and to ask for donations for this great charity (but please don’t feel pressured into giving)

What I would encourage anyone to do is not necessarily just give up money in these hard times, even though cash is greatly needed, but to perhaps do something similar for any kids charities near you. I was speaking to one of the organisers yesterday and she was saying that people giving up their time, skills and services to charity is just as important as the funding they receive in many cases.

If you live in Dorset or nearby, maybe visit the hospice yourself. They have regular open days but you need to call first before popping along so they have an idea of numbers. Or you can simply make a donation online.

If you are in another county or country, you can still make a donation or visit a similar charity near you. I feel not only humbled by the experience but also privileged to be a part of it. I'm also glad to have at least done something for the hospice and children. That’s as soon as I get all these images processed and footage rendered.

Video of Julia's House

Please check out the video of Julia's House below with Martin Clunes. Maybe give a donation through the Julia's House website. Perhaps do a little bit of work for a children’s hospice near you. Every little helps in a large way ; )

Please share this with anyone you feel may like to read it and help out.

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