Supporters throughout the community are joining in celebrations as a haven for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses marks a quarter of a century of providing care.

One of the best-supported causes across Wharfedale and Aireborough, Martin House Children’s Hospice in Boston Spa is well known locally, but not everyone is aware of the very broad help for all the family provided there.

Far from being clinical surroundings, Martin House balances care with therapeutic and fun activities for ill children and teenagers, welcoming their siblings, parents and even grandparents.

One of the charity’s voluntary ‘ambassadors’, Vic Heffer, of Otley Friends of Martin House, said: “The difference between a hospice and a children’s hospice is that a hospice is where people go to die – a children’s hospice is where children who are ill go to live.”

With one-to-one care, accommodation for visiting families, gardens and play areas, music and art rooms, the hospice helps youngsters with progressive medical conditions live as full a life as possible.

It is open to all Yorkshire children and teenagers, regardless of faith, race, background or family circumstances.

The centre costs £4.5 million a year to run, most of which comes from its own fundraising.

Both Otley and Ilkley have their own well-established ‘friends’ groups, promoting the work of Martin House and organising collections, fundraising afternoon teas and other events.

“Without people like the Ilkley and Otley friends’ groups and people giving us the use of their rooms, we wouldn’t be able to exist,” said community fundraiser, Sarah Tarpey.

Many Wharfedale families can testify to the valuable support provided by Martin House.

Among them are Roger and Diane Fielding, who began to visit Martin House when their eldest son, Oliver, was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. Their youngest son, Max, also has the same illness.

Respite breaks meant Oliver received the care he needed, and his family were able to stay at the hospice with him.

Oliver died 18 months ago, but the care did not end there. Martin House offers bereavement groups for parents and siblings of children who have died, and Max also benefits from periodic visits.

The all-round warmth and care eased the otherwise painful experience for all members of the family.

Mr Fielding said: “They made it all so straightforward. As soon as we drove into the car park for the first time, with the oxygen and equipment, someone came out to say welcome and to help us.”

Martin House has been much appreciated by Oliver and Max’s brother, Louis, too. Louis has enjoyed his visits, including treats such as a visit by the MG Owners’ Club.

Open day gives insight into care

Martin House will be offering a once-a-year opportunity for Yorkshire residents to take a closer look at its facilities this weekend.
The annual open day on Sunday will give members of the public a chance to see inside the hospice in Grove Road, Clifford, Boston Spa, as well as get involved in hands-on demonstrations in the art and music rooms.
The hospice only holds one open day a year, while children and families who are accessing the services are away from the centre.
Martin House founder, Richard Seed, will be giving talks in the chapel, and members of the care team will be on hand to show visitors the facilities available to families.
Improvements made to the hospice in 2012, including the beautiful Quiet Garden, will be on show. There will be refreshments and stalls, plus fun and games for children. The open day will take place from 11am to 3pm. Call (01937) 844569 for further information.