Published: 13:08, 28 November 2019
| Updated: 13:23, 28 November 2019
The mother of a severely disabled boy is taking her other child to his first pantomime this Christmas thanks to a new service giving families of seriously ill children a much-needed break.
Archie Page, from Broadstairs, who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and epilepsy, is 'living his best life' according to his family and is rarely without that infectious smile.
But the seven-year-old needs round-the-clock care and so for his parents, Debbie and Dave, doing every day tasks or trips out with his little brother, Jack, is difficult.
Earlier this year the couple started using Demelza Hospice's Care at Home project, which brings vital support, including specialist nurses, into their home, without the upheaval of having to travel to one of the hospice facilities.
It means they can pop out or have a break knowing Archie is in expert hands.
This year, for the first time, the couple can take five-year-old Jack to the pantomime.
"Christmas isn’t something we can plan in our house because Archie makes the rules and the winter months are a difficult time for trying to keep him stable," said mum Debbie Chapman.
'Archie will love getting spoilt rotten with lots of extra hugs and attention from the Demelza ladies this year' - Debbie Chapman
"We’re going to try and make it as special as we can for his brother Jack, and thanks to the Care at Home team, we’ll be taking him to his first pantomime which will be a lovely experience for him, his dad and me.
"Archie will love getting spoilt rotten with lots of extra hugs and attention from the Demelza ladies this year."
Demelza Hospice care for Children, which is currently trying to raise £30,000 to help fund the project, launched the service this year, offering a community hospice at home service.
Specialist nurses provide care and support, which means the child can continue life as normal, in their own surroundings, with as little disruption as possible.
The aim is to also help families get some much-needed respite, while also allowing them time to do everyday tasks which are hard to do when caring for a seriously ill child, particularly at Christmas.
Debbie says she wants to make the festive season as special as possible.
"My one wish this Christmas would be to have many more," she added.
"We just want as many Christmases that we can have, that’s all we want."
Chief executive at Demelza Ryan Campbell says the Care at Home service is a lifeline to many of the families they work with.
"It allows them to access support without facing the upheaval of travelling to one of our hospices, spending time in their own homes or popping out to do those everyday tasks you take for granted, safe in the knowledge their child is in expert hands," he said.
Demelza has launched a Christmas appeal to raise £30,000 with a video featuring voiceovers from Debbie,the hospice's vice president Len Goodman and support from a host of celebrities.
To watch the video or donate go to www.demelza.org.uk/Christmas or text 'CARE' to 70470 to donate £3.
More by this authorMarijke Hall
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