We are honoured to have the support of Sister Frances Dominica OBE and Baroness van Dedem as our Patrons. Sister Frances was the inspiration for React’s services and Baroness van Dedem has supported the charity for many years. Both bring compassion and vision to React’s work with families caring for children receiving palliative care.
Our focus on Home Support for children with life-shortening illnesses is due to the inspiration of Sister Frances Dominica, who we are honoured to have as our Patron.
From an early age, Sister Frances chose nursing as a career and trained at both Great Ormond Street and Middlesex Hospitals. Many years later, Sister Frances chose to specialise in palliative care and it was through her work< caring for a young girl named Helen, that she founded the world’s first children’s hospice, Helen House, which opened in Oxford in 1982.
Seven years later, philanthropist Irving Young was himself inspired to start an organisation for terminally ill children, focussing on those living with the AIDS virus who received little or no support. However, on meeting with Sister Frances, Irving was made aware that the problem did not stop with the AIDS virus but affected every family caring for a child with a life-shortening illness. It was then, through the advice of Sister Frances that Irving founded React, with Sister Frances as its sole Patron. Here she explains why the work React does is so vital.
‘There can be no greater tragedy than the death of your beloved child. From the time when you are told the devastating diagnosis and probable outcome your world spins dangerously out of control. You are grief-stricken, each member of the family grieving differently, and just when you need friends most they often seem not to be there.
They are frightened of saying the wrong thing, embarrassed maybe, and meanwhile you are left feeling lonely and isolated. You enter a bewildering world of hospitals and special treatments, professional visits to your home, severe limitations on you and your family leading a “normal” life, and the frustrations of form-filling and bureaucracy. Added to all this you may find yourself struggling financially. Wage-earning parents may need to give up employment to care for their sick children.
What a breath of fresh air React can be in all this! A quick, personal response, the bare minimum of red tape, and the urgently needed washing machine, special mattress or family holiday is provided! In the midst of all the sorrow, exhaustion and confusion, React’s fast, appropriate and caring response can make such a difference.’
To hear Sister Frances at the BBC Broadcasting House for the BBC Radio 4 Charity Appeal, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0520t2k
Having lived in Richmond for over 25 years, the Baron and Baroness first encountered React through React’s Patron, Sister Frances Dominica OBE. The Baron and Baroness were eager to help and only a short while later, hosted their first event for React in the grounds of their home, Trumpeters House.
Subsequent years have seen the Baron and Baroness host further events in aid of React’s work and in June 2012, they were delighted to accept the honourable position of Vice-Patron.
We love React – the fact that you can count on them to help immediately. You need a wheelchair? Here it is. That is so impressive, said the Baron.
React has been proud to have the Baron and Baroness as our Vice Patrons for many years and their valuable support to the charity’s aim is truly cherished.
Sadly, the Baron passed away in the Winter of 2015 and his personal support will be greatly missed.
We are most grateful to the Baroness van Dedem who will continue her work as React’s Vice-Patron and we are extremely thankful for her dedication and support.