It was an amazing year – now let’s do it all again! That’s the message from Brian House, which celebrated its 21st birthday during 2017.
December was the official anniversary of the first children being welcomed through the doors back in 1996, but despite a monumental fundraising and awareness campaign over the past 12 months, the challenge of funding continues into the New Year and beyond.
Each year Trinity Hospice subsidises the running costs of Brian House, because otherwise it would operate at a deficit. At any one time Brian House cares for around 80 life-limited children and young people from all across the Fylde Coast and demand for its services increases year on year. It gets no money from the local CCGs and less than £200,000 a year from the Department of Health.
But the birthday year was a special one in terms of fundraising: In April our new Bubble Rush attracted 2,000 participants; in September a Fundraising Ball in Blackpool Tower raised £60,000, there was a first-ever Brian House golf day at Royal Lytham and early in December the Santa Dash saw a record number of competitors. But the aim now is to maintain the momentum, to keep the cash coming in.
Linzi Young, Head of Fundraising for Trinity and Brian House said: “We had a wonderful year. The new events worked really well and we were genuinely moved by the way local people rallied behind Brian House in its 21st birthday year. But the truth is that we can’t stop. In the coming months we will continue to raise awareness of the hospice – we launched a new brand identity for the hospice in September – and put extra events into our very busy calendar.
“Last year was a real success in getting the Brian House name out across the Fylde Coast, and helping spread the word that we’re the only children’s hospice for Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre. But now we just start again; working hard to inspire people to get involved and support us for another 12 months.”
Little Elena Williams has attended Brian House for regular respite care for the past five years. Now aged six Elena has complex needs and the hospice plays an important part in the lives of her family, who live in Blackpool. In late 2017 Elena was named Child of Courage at the Radio Wave Local Heroes awards, after being nominated by the Brian House staff. Throughout the Brian House 21st birthday year she is one of the children who have helped promote the hospice and its work through inspirational photographs and case studies.
Sister Carol Wylde, Clinical Manager at Brian House said: “We were thrilled for Elena and her family. She is a lovely little girl who has a smile for everyone and we take real delight in seeing her progress; but she faces many difficulties. Brian House offers respite so that her family can have some ‘down time’ from the 24 hour care she needs.
“Elena is just one of around 80 local children currently supported by Brian House. We help the children and young people using our services to make the most of every day and help their families with the huge demands placed on them because of their child’s condition.
“We said that a 21st birthday for us would be a poignant one: we are all aware that some of our families will never celebrate a coming-of -age with their child, but here at Brian House we fill the days with happiness, ensure that families are supported and create some fantastic memories, no matter what the future holds.”