Hope House Children’s Hospices are appealing for people to join them on their annual Welshpool Canal Walk this September.
Last year’s Canal Walk raised more than £4000 in memory of Teresa Thomas, the Hope House mum who organised the first walk in 2016.
Teresa and Dylan’s daughter Kiera was just a baby when she first visited Hope House. She had been diagnosed with a life-threatening condition at just five months old.
“It was devastating,” recalls Dylan. “Suddenly you go from having a child where you think about a future that includes maybe college and becoming a grandparent, to wondering how long your daughter is going to live and what her quality of life will be like.”
It was the hospital that recommended the young family to Hope House.
“I was nervous about going because, being a hospice, you think of it as a place of you come to die but I have never been to a place that is more about life than Hope House,” says Dylan.
The Hope House nurses became part of Dylan and Teresa’s family. As Dylan says, “They were with us for the best of times and then the worst of times.”
The best of times came when Teresa and Dylan got married. The nurses were delighted to escort bridesmaid Kiera to the wedding and help to look after her at the reception.
Tragically, the worst of times came two years ago when Dylan came home from work one afternoon to find Teresa had died suddenly of a heart attack.
“It was very sudden. I came home from work and Teresa had passed away. My world just fell apart. Losing Teresa was the worst thing that has ever happened to me,” he bravely recalls.
Kiera and Dylan both went to stay at Hope House where the nurses and carers looked after them and supported Dylan as he prepared for Teresa’s funeral.
“I was very, very fortunate to have Hope House. It was a huge help just being able to talk things through with people that I trusted when otherwise I’d have been sat at home worrying and mulling things over. Having company was so important to me at that time.”
The funds raised through Teresa’s Welshpool Canal Walk (which continues to take place each year in her memory) have made a huge difference for families like Dylan and Kiera’s, providing services such as bereavement counselling and essential respite care.
Now, as a single parent and Kiera’s sole round-the-clock carer, Dylan appreciates the respite care Hope House nurses are able to provide more than ever. It’s an exhausting and difficult role, but one that he would never begrudge.
Kiera’s condition means she needs 24 hour a day care. She can’t stand, sit or roll over, she can’t feed herself or drink and she is doubly incontinent. She also suffers from epilepsy, with the majority of her big seizures happening at night when she is poorly or under the weather. It means Dylan can rarely switch off.
“When you have a child with these problems you never sleep the same. I always sleep with half an ear open,” he says.
“Hope House are my rock. If I have trouble or problems they are always there to help. When Kiera is at Hope House she is so happy. I love seeing photos of her enjoying activities and trips and always with a happy smiley face. There’s no one I’d trust more with my daughter.”
Dylan and Kiera are hoping that lots of people will turn out again this September to walk in Teresa’s footsteps and make a difference for the children and families of Hope House.
“We must now be getting towards £20,000 that has been raised in Teresa’s memory,” says Dylan. “It would be wonderful if more people could join us again this year.”
The eight mile walk is free to enter and takes place on Sunday September 22nd.
The walk starts at 10am with registration opening at 9.30am. It starts from the Hope House shop near Tesco in Welshpool and continues 4 miles along the canal towpath to The Horseshoes Inn in Berriew and back again.
To join Dylan, Kiera and Hope House at the Welshpool Canal Walk, sign up by visiting https://welshpoolcanalwalk.eventbrite.co.uk or calling the Fundraising office on 01691 671671.