This year has been one of our most successful fundraising years at The Donna Louise and has put us in a financially strong position to develop some ambition plans for the future. We've continued to receive overwhelming support from our donors, volunteers and families and we're grateful to everyone who has supported us this year. For parents like Meghan this continued support means to world to not just her daughter Lyla, who stays here at the hospice, but to the whole family.
Meghan is Mum to three children, Connor 9, Jamie 7 and 5 year-old Lyla. When she was 18 weeks pregnant Lyla had a stroke in the womb, followed by a haemorrhage. Amazingly she survived the pregnancy and her premature birth but she has severe brain damage, 13 diagnoses, 4 types of epilepsy, visual impairment and cerebral palsy. As time goes on Lyla requires more specialist care, equipment and medical intervention.
Meghan said "It was tough knowing that Lyla wouldn't reach the usual milestones that other children would. We would wait in silent anticipation for the first word, first foods, first steps - hoping that the doctors were wrong and that one day she would be able to do these things, but sadly she can't and she never will be able to walk, talk or eat due to the extent of the brain damage."
The family came to The Donna Louise when Lyla was nine months old. Meghan said, "I was exhausted with worry from trying to be strong all of the time for everyone else. I was broken and Lyla was very ill. This is when The Donna Louise came in to our lives, just at the right time. They saved us, they literally picked up the pieces of our broken family and now we have a strong support system and a very strong family unit."
The Donna Louise provides respite stays for Lyla and sometimes for the whole family. Meghan said "We're not able to leave Lyla with anyone else because of her high level of needs. For us to leave Lyla with them is a massive relief that I find it difficult to explain, even to be able to just have a night's sleep is magic. I can't begin to explain the value of Lyla being in a safe environment with trained people that know her well. Since Lyla has begun her respite stays at The Donna Louise, I can breathe again."
Did you know that in 2015 / 2016 The Donna Louise provided 1485 nights of respite stays, helping 221 families like Meghan's? We also supported 348 siblings like Connor and Jamie, who often feel neglected when they have a brother or sister who needs round-the-clock care. To continue to provide this support we need to raise at least £3 million each year.
Any contribution you can make, no matter if it's big or small, will go towards providing vital care and support to hundreds of children and their families. You really can make a difference.
You may remember the Blakeman’s from our beautiful campaign video earlier this year. See if you can spot them!
The film is also available to watch on our YouTube channel with some of our other feature videos.