For 20 years, families like that of Chloe Angel have depended on Derian House children’s hospice.
Chloe, six, from Ingol, needs 24-hour care after suffering brain damage at birth, and help from the hospice staff means that her parents and grandparents have constant medical support and the option of respite care.
Chloe is one of 300 children currently using the self-funding facility and their ‘hospice at home’ service, which was set up in memory of 19-year-old Derek Haydock from Leyland. Another 200 families are using the hospice-run bereavement services.
Now, to mark the ‘china’ 20th anniversary of its opening in Astley Village, Chorley, a huge year-long tea party fundraiser has been launched, with the aim of topping £3million in donations.
Six-year-old Chloe Angel Gallagher’s family were “knocked sideways” when complications at birth resulted in debilitating brain damage, but say the support of Derian House have helped them back on their feet.
Chloe’s grandmother, Joanne Gallagher, said they were expecting a normal little girl, but when she was born she was not breathing.
Joanne, of Cottam Avenue, Ingol, said: “The nurses tried all of the usual things to make her take a breath, like smacking her and blowing on her, but there was nothing.
“They had to call the crash team in, and we had no idea what affect it was going to have. A few days later she started having seizures, and it was then that we knew there’d been brain damage.”
Chloe was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, which means she has no use of her limbs and struggles to swallow, she is also blind and has Type 1 diabetes.
She is fed milk four times a day through a tube in her stomach, is fitted with an automatic insulin dispenser, and needs a suction device to stop her choking when she coughs.
The family were told the support Derian House could offer them when Chloe was around one year old.
Joanne said: “At first I was very, very apprehensive. I think it’s the word hospice - you just think it’s all about death.
“But as soon as I walked in through the door I changed my mind. Hand on heart, I think it’s the most phenomenal place in the world. It’s a home from home where there is a lot of happiness.”
Chloe, who requires 24-hour care, attends the hospice to give her family respite, and despite her difficulties, enjoys using the hydrotherapy pool and sensory room.
Joanne added: “When Chloe is there, we know she is getting the best possible care, and it gives us peace of mind.
“They have everything Chloe could ever need and they do nice things like trying to get everyone together in the dining room at meal times, so there is a sense of community.
“But the main thing for us at the moment is the hospice at home service, where a nurse will come out to us once a week to look after and play with Chloe while we nip out and do our errands.
“As soon as the nurse arrives, they’ll put a towel down on the bed and get the paints out.
“She likes touching things and listening to music, but loves cuddles more than anything.
“What I’ll never get used to is that she can’t see. I love nature, and I wish Chloe could see all the lovely things, but then I suppose she can’t see any of the horrible things either.”
Joanne runs a charity shop called Chloe Angel in Wellington Road, Ashton, which raises funds for Derian House, and Pear Tree Specialist School in Kirkham, where Chloe attends when she is well enough.
Joanne said: “It can be hard looking after a disabled child, but she brings a lot of joy to our lives.
“Because of her, we’ve raised a lot of money for a lot of other children, and it’s because of her that we get up in the morning.
“The whole family look of life differently now - I think we all appreciate things more - and I’ve changed as a person.
“I used to be very timid, but now I’ll fight every corner for her. She’s made me stronger.”
The 12 tea party locations
- McDonald’s, Clifford Street, Chorley
- The Hartwood Hall pub, Preston Road, Chorley
- Bobbin Mill pub, Eaton Avenue, Chorley
- The Boddington Arms, Smithy Road, Salmesbury
- Briercliffe Nursery, Briercliffe Road, Burnley
- Blackburn Rovers Football Club, On the wall at the Blackburn Road End.
- Middleton Shopping Centre, Middleton
- Fishergate Shopping Centre Preston
- Bolton Market Place Shopping Centre
- The walled garden Astley Park, Chorley
- The covered Market, Chorley
- Flat Iron Car Park in the centre of Chorley.
Other teapots created by the schools are now on display in:
- The Inn at the Station, Clitheroe
- The head office and Chorley and Leyland branches of the Chorley Building Society
- The Southport and Chorley branches of HSBC.
Posters are also on display on the community notice boards of local McDonalds outlets in Lancashire and the South Lakes, to help publicise the tea party initiative.
Other fundraising events on the calendar include:
- Mad Hatter Starlight Stroll - May 8.
- Forget me Not Event - May 23.
- 20th Birthday Ball –September 21
- Winter Sparkle Spectacular – November 3
- Lights of Love service – December 6.