David Beckham, Robert Downey Jr and Simon Le Bon joined film director Guy Ritchie on a clay pigeon shoot in Wiltshire, to raise funds for a new dedicated hospice.
Julia’s House, a children’s hospice charity, which already offers home-based community care in South Wiltshire, is now looking to extend its support to other families with life-limited children by building a small, dedicated hospice. It will offer care service all across Wiltshire.
Thanks to private fundraising by patrons, most notably the film director Guy Ritchie and his fiancée Jacqui Ainsley, Julia’s House now has nearly half of the £3 million needed to build the hospice. A public appeal will be launched in Wiltshire to raise the remaining funds.
Chief Executive Martin Edwards said: “We are announcing this publicly now, and will use the time until building starts to develop public fundraising in Wiltshire just as we did in Dorset from the Dorset public.
“Many other hospice charities cover more than one county in this way. Having carefully researched the needs and our capability, we believe that we can and should reach out to children and families in Wiltshire, and that we can do so without lessening the care we provide in Dorset.”
Mr Edwards said that since launching the initial home-based service in South Wiltshire, staff had been surprised at the number of referrals coming in and the scale of the help that was needed by families in the county.
“Since launching Julia’s House in Dorset 12 years ago, we have developed services that are unlike any other children’s hospice service in the South West. It is clear that frequent respite support makes a difference not just to the children but to family life and relationships under great stress.
“There is currently no equivalent service for children and families in Wiltshire. We want to help them as much as we can.”
Much of the funding to kick-start the new hospice appeal was raised at a private clay shoot and auction organised by Guy Ritchie at his home on the Dorset/Wiltshire border.
The star-studded guest list included David Beckham, actors Robert Downey Jnr and Jamie Dornan, Simon and Yasmin Le Bon, Trudie Styler and the Crown Prince of Bahrain. The comedian Michael McIntyre provided the entertainment.
Guy and Jacqui became patrons of Julia’s House after meeting staff and families at the charity’s 10th birthday reception hosted by Samantha Cameron at 10 Downing Street in 2013. Guy was particularly interested in how Julia’s House was planning to help Wiltshire families and pledged his support for the project.
In 2011 Julia’s House ranked 1st in The Sunday Times ‘Top 100 Places to Work in the Public & Charity Sectors’. Julia’s House won Healthcare Charity of the Year at the 2012 UK Charity Awards. The Care Quality Commission has rated Julia’s House ‘Outstanding‘.
Mr Edwards, who gave a speech at the recent event, said: “Guy and Jacqui visited the hospice, met the children and were really moved and impressed by the support Julia’s House offers to families. They had expressed an interest in doing some fundraising, but what they raised far surpasses anything we could have hoped for.
“Julia’s House is almost totally dependent on fundraising and donations. We now hope the Wiltshire public will get behind this landmark creation of children’s hospice and respite care for every child and family who needs our support.”
The Dorset children’s hospice was the idea of Julia Perks, a former Great Ormond Street Hospital nurse. Julia worked at Poole Hospital caring for seriously ill children and saw the need for greater support for these children and their families. Tragically she died of cancer before she could take this vision much further. Her friends, led by founder Mike Wise MBE, carried it on to make her dream come true. Learn more.