As a local resident, I first found out about Haven House through one of its community fundraisers during the very early days of the charity. I went along to help at a couple of events and was instantly impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of volunteers who wanted to make a real difference to the lives of seriously ill children and their families.

In October 2006, I was invited to become a Patron of Haven House, an invitation I was delighted to accept. The connection with the charity became more personal when my nephew, Joshua, became very ill with encephalitis and started visiting the hospice. He used to really look forward to his visits; they became a highlight of his week.

Joshua sadly passed away on his 13th birthday. As a family we took part in the Annual Memory Day. It’s such a comfort to be able to have this day when everyone comes together to remember those they have lost. It’s always very moving when people read messages or poems they have written to their loved ones and they are released into the sky with balloons. Some people sing songs. It’s a very emotional time for everyone.

One of the things which surprise people about Haven House is that it’s also a place of fun and joy for families. The biggest highlight for me is the annual Summer Fair which this year was bigger and better than ever. It’s always inspiring and the event gives everyone the chance to meet the children and families of the hospice. You can get to know them personally and see first hand what goes on. There is a real sense of warmth and camaraderie. It’s great to see so many volunteers and members of the public coming together to raise an excellent amount for the hospice on the day.

The great thing about being a Patron of Haven House is seeing the charity grow over the years. I officially opened Haven House’s new Loughton charity boutique in September which has made a lovely addition to the High Street. In 2015 I opened the hospice’s sensory garden and also the charity’s first boutique-style charity shop in Leytonstone. As someone who loves to browse for bargains, I’m always amazed by what you can find in Haven House’s charity shops!

In 2018 Haven House will celebrate its 15th birthday. It really is incredible to think of all the children and families the hospice has been able to support in that time. I cannot wait to hear about some of the exciting things Haven House will be doing in its 15th year and I really hope you can get involved.