Our Patrons

React was founded in 1989 under the guidance of Sister Frances Dominica OBE who noted a gap in the palliative care system. Together with philanthropist Irving Young, React opened its doors to offer essential aid and assistance to terminally ill children living in the UK.

Sister Frances Dominica OBE

React gives Sister Frances Dominica full support – Please Click Here to see a statement from our Chair.

Founder of the world’s first children’s hospice, Helen & Douglas House

Our focus to support families caring for a terminally ill child is due to the inspiration of Sister Frances Dominica, who continues to guide our work. By using her expertise in palliative care, the charity meets the needs of life-limited children, through the provision of vital aid and equipment which will enhance their quality of life.

Sister Frances OBE

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.

Sister Frances collecting 2007 'Woman of the Year' award

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, with the guidance of Sister Frances that React was founded.  Here Sister Frances 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.

Sister Frances with React staff at the charity's prestigious Midsummer's event

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, specialist 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

React’s Patrons – Baroness van Dedem, Sir Derek Jacobi CBE & Samantha Bond

React Patrons
React is most grateful to our three Patrons Baroness van Dedem, Sir Derek Jacobi CBE and Samantha Bond for their valued support and assistance in raising awareness of the charity’s work.

They bring with them devotion, compassion and commitment to React families and share in the belief that every child deserves the right to live in comfort and participate in life to the greatest degree.

We are extremely proud to have each of them as advocates of React and know they will do all they can to support the charity’s work.

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Drama Cube Volunteer Drama Cube


“We are really pleased with the success of the event. The children had a great day of drama and mask-making and we are really happy to have raised so much money for React.”

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Actress Endorsement from Samantha Bond

Samantha Bond

“React is a charity that I am honoured to be part of. I encourage everyone to get involved and support this wonderful charity which provides vital assistance to children throughout the UK”


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