Hospice celebrating 30 years of helping seriously ill children

Eddie Farwell at Charlton Farm

Eddie Farwell at Charlton Farm. - Credit: John Bellars

A children’s hospice is celebrating three decades of helping families make the most of their previous time together. 

Children’s Hospice South West is marking its 30th anniversary this year and the charity is inviting everyone to help it celebrate the landmark occasion. 

Over the past 30 years, the hospice - which has bases at Charlton Farm, in Wraxall, Little Bridge House in Devon, and Little Harbour in Cornwall - has offered care, support and friendship to thousands of families with a seriously ill child. 

To mark the occasion, the charity is encouraging people to help it create more cherished memories for families for many years to come. 

Eddie Farwell, who set up the hospice with his late wife Jill, said: “It has been a tremendous journey and so many children and families have been helped along the way at each of our three hospices. 

“That work would not have been possible without the continued faithfulness and generosity of people all over the South West.  

““So we hope they will join with us in 2021 and celebrate this wonderful milestone, and all that they have helped us achieve.  

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“We have lots of fundraising ideas on our website and anything people are able to do to help, no matter how big or small, will make a real difference to families in 2021.  

“Together, we can continue to create more memories to be cherished for another 30 years.” 

Eddie and Jill launched a £1million fundraising appeal in 1991 to build the South West’s first children’s hospice. 

They were in desperate need for local support to help their two eldest children, Katie and Tom, who had life-limiting illnesses. 

The family had to travel more than four hours, from their home in North Devon to Helen House in Oxford, which was the only children’s hospice in the country at the time.  

Mr Farwell, who is the charity’s chief executive, said the idea to build a children’s hospice came to him during the middle of a restless night, and despite being told to ‘stop being so silly and go back to sleep’ by his late wife Jill, the idea began to take shape.  

He said: “From that bonkers statement, an idea grew.

"We knew that there were many hundreds of families in the West Country who should also have the opportunity to experience the benefits which we were receiving at Helen House.”  

The couple started fundraising in the laundry room of their home and spent days, evenings and weekends on the road with printed leaflets talking to anyone who would listen about the project.  

In 1995, Little Bridge House opened its doors in Fremington, near Barnstaple.  

Huge demand for its services led to the opening of the charity’s second hospice, Charlton Farm, near Bristol, in 2007.  

In 2011, Little Harbour opened in St Austell, in Cornwall, meaning that no matter where families live in the South West, children’s hospice care is available within an hour-and-a-half drive.  

Today, CHSW supports more than 500 families across the peninsular.  

It has adapted its care during the pandemic to ensure Covid-safe support wherever and whenever families need it, including in the hospices, and for the first time ever, in families’ own homes. 

The charity needs around £11million a year to run its three children’s hospices, and around 85 per cent is raised through voluntary donations.

Mr Farwell is encouraging people to do whatever they can to keep supporting the hospice, to enable the charity to continue providing vital support to families in need. 

He said: “Katie and Tom, who had so little that this world values, not only inspired their parents, but also many thousands of people to create CHSW, which has helped and will continue to help, many hundreds of families across the South West.”  

There are lots of ways people can support CHSW during its 30th year and every penny raised will help CHSW continue to care for very poorly children and families.  

For ideas on how to support the hospice, log on to www.chsw.org.uk/30 

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