THEY have helped hundreds of Huddersfield families. Now Martin House Children’s Hospice is celebrating 25 years – and is caring for 78 Huddersfield families at the moment.
The Boston Spa facility was the first of its kind in the north of England and offers support to families who have children with progressive life-limiting illnesses.
Families using the hospice described it as a “home from home” – which truly defined its success.
More than 100 staff work tirelessly to uphold the hospice’s feeling of familiarity and although sadness is often inevitable, the happiness and comfort described by its visitors is overwhelming.
Harriett Linley, from Holmfirth, was referred to Martin House by her consultant at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary nearly 13 years ago.
She suffers from several health complications including rare brain formation known as lissencephaly which means she is neurologically impaired due to a lack of development of brain folds.
She also has polymicrogyria which is a condition characterised by abnormal development of the brain before birth.
Her mum Martine said that Harriett uses Martin House for around 14 days a year when the family go to Tenerife.
The nursery nurse said: “It is difficult to imagine life without it.
“If it wasn’t here the children wouldn’t get a holiday and Harriett wouldn’t get to socialise with other children her own age.
“With Harriett’s condition comes a lot of health complications and I feel that this is the only place that can deal with anything thrown at them.
“Not only that but it is a place that the other two children enjoy. They can go away without restrictions.
“I start to relax when I see the signs for Boston Spa.
“You don’t realise how much the everyday routine takes out of you until you stop.
“In those two weeks I can do simple things like get out of bed and have a shower or decide to have pizza at 2pm – and the kids are not restricted.
Martine lives on a farm in Oldfield with her daughters and husband Robert and usually begins her daily routine with Harriett at 6.30am.
Her middle daughter Olivia said that for her the best bit about the hospice was that she was able to “spend time with mum” knowing that Harriett was in good hands and Netherthong Primary pupil Georgie loves the jacuzzi.
Kirsty Brook, of Lower Fixby, said although they have the option of transferring to the new Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Brackenhall, coming to Martin House for her family feels like having a holiday.
She recently made an emergency call to Martin House with her four-year-old son Archie who suffers from an epileptic condition known as West’s Syndrome and polymicrogyria when she went into labour with 12-week-old Kasper.
She said: “My waters broke in HRI when Archie was having a check-up for a chest infection.
“We didn’t want him to stay at the hospital so my husband Dave brought him here where we knew he would be much happier.
“After I had Kasper we all came and spent time here as it was killing me to be apart and that Alfie wasn’t with his new little brother.
“It’s great just to sit down, make a cup of tea and talk to other families who know what you area going through.
“It is great company and you just feel so welcomed and as though you are a big family.
“Being here gives me a chance to just be a mum instead of a carer. I can sit down and just have a cuddle with my son.
“Without being able to come here I wouldn’t be able to spend that time with Kasper and going to hospital all the time – I would put him at risk of infection.”
Debbie Booth has not just used the hospice for support but has also called on the home care team to help with her 13-year-old daughter Bethany who suffers from cerebral palsy.
“As soon as you walk in the door you start to relax,’’ she said.