Deb qualified as a physiotherapist in 1972, and worked full time until taking early retirement in 2005. Her working life was spent predominantly within the NHS acute hospital sector in various locations in England, with three years working overseas. Deb's clinical specialties were the treatment of musculo-skeletal disorders, trauma and the management of chronic pain.
Hundreds and hundreds of children of all ages converged on a park in central Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to take part in a fun run to raise money for the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH). Velcom, the second largest mobile telecommunications company in Belarus, promoted the event and, as part of their ongoing support for BCH, sponsored every child who participated. The young runners were joined by Alina Talay who recently won the bronze medal for the 100m hurdles at the 2015 World Athletic Championships. Alina also presented golden cups to the winners in each age category. There was a great atmosphere and lots of enthusiasm for the event which was the first of its kind to be held in Belarus.
Progess on the new Belarusian children's palliative care centre in Minsk has been coming on a pace. The main building has almost been completed. All the external utilities are in place, the roof is being finished off, the internal walls are built and the internal utilities have been installed. Elsewhere on the site, the electricity substation has been completed and the boiler house is well on the way to being finished. At the beginning of the year, there was snow on the ground but the winter was realtively mild and building did not have to halt because of bad weather as expected. See how the building grew as the weather improved through the year in this series of pictures.
Thanks to the organisers of the Epping and Ongar Railway Beer Festival for helping to raise £500 for Friends of BCH at this year's event. It was a hugely enjoyable weekend for train and beer enthusiasts alike.
Multi-talented Friends of BCH trustee, Alexandra Hughes, liaised with the organisers on the charity's behalf and can be seen here serving thirsty punters.
This photo is for the train spotters amongst you.
Friends of BCH chairwoman, Daryl Ann Hardman, was in Minsk for a conference on children’s palliative care and wrote this account about the wonderful day out enjoyed by sick children and their parents.
BCH Anastasia and family at zoo compressed‘On 1 June 2015, Belarus celebrated the 90th anniversary of International Children’s Day. For a few days, the country’s parks, cinemas, sports grounds and other recreational facilities were full of children enjoying special activities with their parents in tow. It was very festive and colourful with music, balloons and brightly dressed children.
The Belarusian Children’s Hospice organised several celebrations for this special day and broke its own record for the number of people at a single event. Minsk Zoo and Dolphinarium donated 237 free tickets which meant that a mass of excited children of all ages in wheelchairs, buggies or their parents’ arms enjoyed a grand day out. The excitement was huge. Picnic spots around the zoo were peopled with groups of parents feeding their children pureed food by spoon or through gastrostoma and giving them drinks using special bottles or beakers. Those able to eat normally enjoyed ice cream and candy floss. Parents I spoke to felt ‘liberated’ and were counting the days until the next BCH event. It underlines how tremendously important BCH is in their lives, giving them and their disabled children a level of dignity and normality that they still do not experience in their everyday lives.’
A sublime performance by extremely talented and sensitive pianist Olga Stezhko delighted the audience fortunate to be at her lunchtime recital at St Pancras Church, London. The well judged and satisfying programme led from the familiar Pavane by Ravel to four late piano pieces by Brahms, dedicated to Clara Shumann, a less familiar and lively tarantella by 20th century Belarusian composer Lev Abeliovich and finally three evocative 'Images' by Claude Debussy. The retiring collection was in aid of Friends of BCH. Daryl Ann Hardman, chairwoman of Friends of BCH, and Valery Dougan from the Belarusian Embassy in London both thanked Olga for donating this performance to help life limited children in Belarus.
Supporters of Friends of BCH have raised £500 at no cost to them while shopping on-line through easyfundraising. It really is easy and over 2700 popular retailers including Amazon, Argos, NEXT, M&S, John Lewis, Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Debenhams, Vodafone and DELL and many insurance and utility companies have signed up to the scheme. All you need to do is register and access the retailer's website through the easyfundraising website. It is even easier if you install the 'Remind' facility as you can go straight to your favourite website to buy and you will be asked if you would like to raise a donation. Try it! Just follow this link Easyfundraising.
A Mother’s Day gift with a difference
It is usually a mother who gives unstinting 24 hour care 7 days a week to a much loved child with a life-limiting condition or terminal illness. The Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH) can provide a nurse or carer to look after a child for a day for just £15. This enables the mother to go out on her own or spend undivided time with her other children.
Please give a very special gift to a Belarusian mother this Mother’s Day by donating to Friends of BCH here. Thank you.
£250k grant from the Maurice and Hilda Laing Charitable Trust
Friends of BCH are hugely grateful to the Maurice and Hilda Laing Charitable Trust for a £250k grant towards the cost of building a new Children’s Palliative Care Centre in Minsk. Construction of this purpose built centre is underway and it is planned to open in late 2016. The fundraising team at BCH have been working hard and the cost of the substantial first phase has been raised. A time capsule was laid in the foundations of the new centre by Anna Garchakova, director of the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH), together with Mr Anatoly Tozik, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, and Mr Vasily Zharko, the Belarusian Minister of Health. Read more here.
Summer Project Manager at BCH, Irina Baidakova, has written about a winter event for BCH children.
Hardly were Christmas and New Year celebrations at the Belarusian Children’s Hospice over when we had another party on our agenda for the disabled and chronically ill children on our social programme. On 19th January, 14 of our children came together at the Ecology and Local History Centre in Minsk with Hospice staff and volunteers, the latter including a growing number of student volunteers from local schools and some parents. Thanks to the staff of the Ecology Centre, the students who gave up their time to help and made sure there were enough gifts to go round and to the event’s sponsors. The event was called ‘Ecology of the Soul’.
Former BCH medical director, Dr Natasha Savva, trained in children's palliative care services while working at BCH and was supported in her studies by Friends of BCH. She recently travelled to Prague to help deliver a 3 day introduction course in children's palliative care to healthcare professionals in the Czech Republic. It is most welcome news that the concept and practice of pallitive care for sick and dying children is being embraced in Eastern Europe and that BCH is playing an active role in the spreading of good practice. You can read more about the conference here.
On 23 December 2014, a time capsule containing a message for our descendants was ceremoniously laid on the spot where the new Children’s Palliative Care Centre is to be built in Minsk. The capsule was laid by Anna Garchakova, director of the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH), who was helped by Mr Anatoly Tozik, the Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus, and Mr Vasily Zharko, the Belarusian Minister of Health. The ceremony was opened by an Orthodox priest who blessed the site of the building. Anna Garchakova explained that the letter contained the hopes of all those at the Children’s Hospice that, one day, incurable diseases will become curable or will be stamped out so that, in the future, no new hospices will be required.