A year of celebration, reflection and pride for children's hospice
The CEO of Forget Me Not Children's Hospice has been reflecting on what has been a momentous year for the charity.
Luen Thompson looked back on an eventful 2021, which included a major anniversary and a Royal visit.
She said: "2021 marked the 10th anniversary of Russell House being built and so our plan was to celebrate the 10 years of services we have delivered from this purpose-built children’s hospice designed for the families of West Yorkshire.
"We started in January by hosting a surprise Zoom call with our Royal Patron, HRH Princess Beatrice. Many of our staff, trustees and volunteers attended the call and it was lovely to share some of our history together and for everyone to meet Russell for whom our hospice is named.
"As the year went on and the world opened up, we were able to host events at Russell House, some for the very first time like a moving family memorial event and a spectacular firewalk. It felt really good to move from MS Teams and Zoom to the real thing!
"Also this year, we have commenced work on the renovation and refurbishment of Russell House to improve the facilities for our families, including the creation of an amazing cinema room, new garden spaces and decorating projects to name but a few. All thanks to generous donations of materials, supplies and manpower by many local businesses and organisations.
"Then in September, Princess Beatrice came to Russell House in person and planted a time capsule in our garden. We celebrated with long-time supporters, new supporters and supporters who we are developing future plans around.
"Most importantly, we celebrated with families and Princess Beatrice was able to meet lots of children, parents and brothers and sisters for whom the hospice and its services have made a massive impact.
"And it’s this impact that is what we are all about, the difference we really make. So it’s been good to see how our hospice has really helped families through the year.
"Despite the impact of Covid, we have been able to stay open and support families because of the way our building is designed and because of our highly skilled team.
"This has enabled children to be transferred here from hospital so that their family could be by their side and it has meant that mums, dads and siblings could have the support of their family and friends. We even had a dog here at the request of one family.
"October saw Baby Loss Awareness Week and we were overwhelmed with people telling us they’d wished they had known about or received our services when they had suffered a loss in the past.
"Families who have carried their grief around for years and years, long before the hospice was built, grateful that others would get better support than they had.
"There is so much more I could mention, so much to be proud of and so much still to do.
"We continue to provide an innovative range of services, powered by families who have helped us to build and develop the hospice and its staff, all there to support those in greatest need.
"As we begin 2022, we know the need for our services will continue to grow, so we can’t stop now.
"The momentum we have built in 2021 will continue and with your help, we will be here for the next 10 years.
"Happy New Year to you all. I hope this year will bring more stability, more certainty, more freedoms and less anxiety.
"I hope all our supporters have a healthy and prosperous 2022 and that with your support, we can help children and families make the most of every moment too."