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Aliza-May was born in June 2017 with a rare syndrome called Edwards. For the first week of her life Aliza-May’s Mum Emma-May and Dad Ross lived in the special care baby unit where every test under the sun was done. They were told then that she wouldn’t be able to do anything (not even smile) and at the end of the week, she was given 3-6 weeks to live.

For any parent that shatters every possible fibre in your body. The word hospice isn’t the nicest thing to hear but once the family went for a visit, they realised it was really was a home-from-home. They knew as a family that they would be safe and very happy at the hospice and they came for respite stays for the next 10 months. They did not feel lonely anymore and the people they met throughout their stays made their short time with Aliza-May the most enjoyable it could be.

Emma-May said ‘Our first visit to Helen & Douglas House was filled with angst and concern, but once we started walking around and talking to the nurses and staff, we were put at ease immediately. We were shown around the games areas, arts and crafts, the other rooms and then the pool, which to us just looked like a huge jacuzzi but it is so much more. That was the first thing we put on our family bucket list: a swim with Aliza-May.

‘A stay was arranged and it was incredible. We got our wish; we swam with Aliza-May. It may not seem a lot to just anyone, but we never would have been able to do this with her elsewhere due to her syndrome. We had no worries, stresses or concerns because the nurses were there to deal with everything else whilst you as a family can enjoy the moment you’re in.

‘Swimming for a child like Aliza-May is extremely beneficial. It helped her motor function, it was fun and enjoyable and we saw her grow in those short moments.

‘Today, I cannot imagine how the families helped by Helen & Douglas House are dealing with the COVID pandemic. Not being able to have help from carers in the home or to meet other families going through similar things, must have such a huge impact on families like ours.

‘If we hadn’t had our time with Aliza-May in Helen & Douglas House our lives wouldn’t have been the same. And that all comes down to the hospice staff being hands-on, able to have cuddles and comfort my daughter, that goes for all the children they care for.

‘Families like ours need help from Helen & Douglas House now more than ever to cope with these difficult times. Without Helen & Douglas House we would not have been able to experience feeding Aliza-May actual food, hear her laugh for the first time, do arts and crafts and so much more.

Helen & Douglas House was the last place that my daughter went to for her last healthy week on this earth.  Without them, we would not have created the memories we carry with us every day since she passed in April 2018, just before her 1st birthday.’

Help us continue making the difference to families when it matters the most

Did you know? A donation of £50 could help us pay for 2.5 hours of specialist nurse care for a child who is staying at Helen & Douglas House. By providing specialist nursing care and emotional support we can help families to smile again when life couldn’t get any tougher.