It may not be in Scarborough, but Scarborough’s local children’s hospice – Martin House – has had a huge impact on local families’ lives over the past 25 years.
The hospice, which is located near Wetherby, is the nearest hospice for youngsters with life-limiting conditions.
Martin House provides care and support, free of charge, in a home-from-home environment.
They can help in emergencies, with symptom control, nursing and practical care and with end-of-life care and bereavement support.
The hospice provides care for up to nine families in the main house and six young people in the teenage centre at any one time.
Martin House is currently caring for well over 300 children and supporting a further 125 bereaved families from across the region.
One family who holds Martin House dear to their hearts is the Holder family, of Valley Road, Scarborough.
Mum Becky has spoken about the support they received when daughter Megan was poorly and after she sadly passed away in 2008, aged three.
She explained that Megan, who had brain damage, cerebral palsy and epilepsy, went to Martin House a number of times for respite care.
Becky said: “It was really nice. We stayed in the family part the first time and it was great to meet other families in the same situation.
“When we went down to see Megan in the morning there was a nurse with her and everything had been done.
“That’s when I realised that I was there for a rest as well.”
When the family were comfortable with Megan staying over without them, nurses would make picture books during her stay to show what she had been doing.
These have become treasured mementoes, along with cards, artwork and footprints which Megan made with the hospice staff.
When Megan became very ill, the family chose for her to die at home. They had support from Martin House throughout, with advice from experts about how to prepare her brother Rhys for what was going to happen.
Becky said: “It was really hard, but we had such support from Martin House and from Scarborough Hospital.
“The hospice rang me quite often afterwards, always asking if it was OK to ring again.
“I was offered bereavement counselling and we were invited to remembrance services. They also sent a little present at Christmas and a card.”
Becky added that before Megan’s illness, she had never heard of Martin House, but that their support had been “invaluable” to the whole family.
Another mum who has kept in touch with Martin House after losing a child is Sharon Thompson, of Victoria Avenue in Filey. Her son Haydn, 20, passed away in August and had been a regular user of Martin House since he was 14.
The youngster, who had been battling a brain tumour, stayed at Whitby Lodge, the hospice’s unit for those aged 13 and up.
Mum Sharon said: “Nothing was too much trouble. They would take them to the pictures, to play pool and when Haydn was old enough, they would go to the pub.
“It’s a lovely family-orientated place and everyone is made to feel welcome. There’s always a cup of tea on the go!”
She added that when Haydn went for respite care, she had no worries whatsoever about leaving him.
Sharon explained: “I knew he was well looked after. They always have doctors on site.
“Staff would keep in touch with me and after every stay they’d write a report about how he’d been. It just becomes a home from home – like one big family.”
Sharon recalls some of the amazing experiences Haydn had thanks to Martin House, such as meeting Top Gear’s “The Stig” and having a ride in a Lotus and a Lamborghini.
He also went on a trip to Kielder Forest, near Newcastle, where there was the chance to do abseiling and zip wire activities.
She added that staff told her they had a fantastic time with Haydn too, particularly because of his sense of humour.
As Haydn became ill very quickly before he died, he went to St Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough.
But Sharon said the travelling to and from Martin House had never really been a problem, and was “well worth it”.
She added: “People tend not to know about it, because it’s not here, but it’s a lovely, peaceful place.”
Scarborough mum Heather Othick has also praised the hospice after they cared for her daughter Ellie, who died in February 2010 aged 14.
She said: “The staff were wonderful. They were very warm, caring and natural, right from the consultants and nurses to the kitchen staff.
“Everyone was wonderful and what they’ve achieved there is absolutely momentous. They helped us to get through the most difficult time of our lives.”
Heather added that after Ellie had died, the hospice’s child psychologist stayed in touch to help her support Ellie’s sister.