Preston mum walking the Lake District's 21-mile Ullswater Way in aid of Derian House Children’s Hospice to mark 10 years since her daughter died of a rare brain tumour

A Penwortham mum is raising money for Derian House Children’s Hospice in Chorley to mark 10 years since her daughter died of a rare brain tumour.

By Laura Longworth
Friday, 15th April 2022, 12:31 pm
Updated Saturday, 16th April 2022, 11:24 am

Paula Slater, 45, will walk 21 miles along Ullswater Way in the Lake District with her children Scarlet, 10, and Charley, 18, on Thursday, May 26 - what would have been Katy Holme’s 21st birthday.

The mum, who works at The Parish of St Laurence CE Primary School, hopes to raise £2,100 for Derian House, which looked after Katy during her final months.

She said: "Derian House were just amazing. It was an awful time but they put an arm around all of us. They made us all laugh at a time when we didn’t think we could.”

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Photo Neil Cross; Penwortham mum Paula Slater and her daughters Scarlet and Charley are walking 21 miles around Ullswater Way to raise money for Derian House. The hospice cared for Paula's daughter Katy Holmes before she died of a rare brain tumour 10 years ago.

Katy had just started year six when she began to have headaches and was sleeping more often. After many trips back and forth to the hospital, an MRI scan revealed she had an inoperable brain tumour at just 10-years-old. With just months to live, she moved into Derian House.

“In the beginning, I was afraid of what the hospice would be like so I refused to take Katy there. But it was there gentle insistence that encouraged me to have a look and see it for myself. I did, and it was the most beautiful place. It’s not dark and scary,” Paula said.

Staff did everything they could to make her daughter smile, she added, decorating her room in fairy lights, serving her favourite meals, and allowing a member of the public to bring in husky puppies for the children to play with.

After the 10-year-old died, the huskies became the Team Katy Husky Huddle, who came to her funeral and howled together as the family arrived.

Photo Neil Cross; Penwortham mum Paula Slater and her daughters Scarlet and Charley are walking 21 miles around Ullswater Way to raise money for Derian House.

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Staff also took care of her family, bringing meals to then heavily pregnant Paula, and a nurse giving the mum a massage.

“There was something very spiritual about that moment and I burst into tears,” she said.

"I’d been too busy looking after my daughter to cry ever since the diagnosis. It just allowed all that emotion to come out and my bond with the staff grew and I trusted them completely.”

Katy Holmes died from a inoperable brain tumour

Paula says Derian House gave her family several magical memories in the darkest of times, recalling: her then-husband Dave dying his hair in Katy’s favourite colour of blue to make her smile; giving birth to baby Scarlet at the hospice as her eldest lay in bed with her dad by her side; and laughing when staff gave a manager’s badge to Charley and the then eight-year-old told her parents she didn’t think she could handle the responsibility.

“And, after a long, hard battle, Derian was the place that we said goodbye to Katy,” said her mum.

"She died peacefully in a big double bed with [her dad] Dave and I cuddled up to her holding each hand. All the time her favourite Disney CD was playing. It was very peaceful.

"It couldn’t have been more perfect.”

Katy Holmes of Penwortham who died just months after being diagnosed with a brain tumour

To donate to Paula’s fundraiser, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/paula-slater9

Paula has undertaken numerous charity challenges since her daughter's death