Few people will truly understand and appreciate the level of care at Brian House children’s hospice until, unfortunately, they need it.
That’s the view of Daz Rice, who’s son Yuto tragically died of a heart condition aged just three.
His family had been helped by the staff and volunteers at Brian House for two years before Yuto’s untimely death last year.
Daz and his wife Maki received help both at the hospice on Low Moor Road, Bispham, and at their Cleveleys home.
Daz, 48, said: “When you’re in that predicament, you’re in it for the first time and you don’t know what to do it’s like you’re in limbo.
“The staff know what’s best and we couldn’t have gone through what we did without them. They were so sympathetic and just got on with what needed to be done for us.
“Being there really opened our eyes. You don’t realise how many children are there and how many people the nurses care for. You have no idea this place is here until you need it.”
Yuto was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy a year before his death, and captured the hearts of people in the area who raised thousands of pounds to allow Yuto’s family to care for him at home during his final months.
The family also launched Yutofest to help boost the funds, and the concert has carried on after Yuto died to raise money for the people who helped him.
Maki said she still visited the hospice when she could.
She said: “I wanted to see the children’s faces, and the new babies that come here and I want to support the families.
“Every time I come there are new terminally ill children, and that’s why we have to keep going.
“Brian House is always going to be here to help the people who need its care.”
Someone else who didn’t know too much about Brian House was Leanne Sutton.
But she suddenly needed it when her baby was born prematurely and survived just one day in 2010.
Leanne, 33, of Bispham, had got pregnant after five years of trying for a baby.
At 26 weeks she suffered complications and her baby boy, Harrison, was born 10 weeks early and died the following day.
Staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital directed Leanne to Brian House, where Harrison was able to stay until transport could be arranged to Manchester for a post mortem.
Leanne said: “We stayed there for four or five days and were able to wrap him up and lay him down with his teddies.
It was comforting knowing he was there.
“I don’t know what we would have done without Brian House.
“We wouldn’t have wanted him left in the hospital somewhere, that wouldn’t have seemed right.”
Daz, Maki and Leanne, and their families, visited Brian House on Wednesday to hand over £6,000 raised at Yutofest 2013.
While they were there, they had a chance to look at plans to radically transform the hospice, as well as its adult counterpart Trinity Hospice as part of The Gazette’s Hospice Heroes appeal.
Plans include making Brian House brighter, safer and more appropriate for the changing needs of children visiting with challenging behaviour.
The windows will be replaced, a leaking roof fixed and the bedrooms brought up to date.
At Trinity, the main element of the work involves creating four new single rooms with en-suite facilities, as well as replacing warped and draughty windows and making the corridors brighter and easier to navigate.
It is a major task and will cost around £500,000 to bring the hospices up to modern standards.
Bosses were given a major boost with a £280,000 grant by the Department of Health, but there is still a shortfall of £200,000.
That’s where Hospice Heroes comes in – we are looking for our readers to do something heroic for our local hospice.
It could be a sponsored walk, run, cake bake, non-uniform day at school or work, or anything which can help us reach our target.
On seeing the plans, Daz announced he and Maki would put on a special festival for our appeal.
He said: “I heard about the plans, and I think they’re fantastic.
“It’s important that the children here are comfortable, as well the staff and volunteers working here.”