Read the Blakeman's story about how The Donna Louise has saved their lives and how by taking part you can make a difference too for other families across Staffordshire and Cheshire.

Meghan and her husband Kip are parents to three children, Connor 9, Jamie 7 and 5 year-old Lyla. When Meghan was 18 weeks pregnant Lyla had a stroke in the womb, followed by a haemorrhage. Amazingly she survived the pregnancy and her premature birth. She has severe brain damage as a result of the stroke and has 13 diagnoses, 4 types of epilepsy, visual impairment and cerebral palsy. As time goes on Lyla requires more specialist care, equipment and medical intervention.

The family came to The Donna Louise when Lyla was nine months old. Meghan said, “I was exhausted with worry from trying to be strong all of the time for everyone else. I was broken and Lyla was very ill. The Donna Louise came in to our lives, just at the right time. They saved us - they literally picked up the pieces of our broken family.”

The Donna Louise provides respite stays for Lyla and sometimes for the whole family as well. Meghan said “We’re not able to leave Lyla with anyone else because of her high level of needs. For us to leave Lyla at the Hospice is a massive relief, even to be able to just have a night’s sleep is magic. I cannot begin to explain the value of Lyla being in a safe environment with trained people that know her well.”

The family try to support our fundraising events whenever they can and last year they all completed the 5k family fun run. Meghan explained, “We did it altogether as a family and it was a massive challenge for all of us, but it was a truly memorable day with a lot of joy.

“It was the first year that families and children of the Hospice were given gold balloons. The feeling of raw emotion when we saw another gold balloon on that run was a feeling of pride. It was pure pride of those people that came out and did their best despite their current circumstances. They were raising funds and awareness for the Hospice and were part of something very special.

“That experience brought home

to us how much we need The Donna Louise and how much it’s part of our lives now, it means the absolute world to us as a family. We really would be lost without them. I realise that one day we may need the Hospice in the traditional sense - at the end of Lyla’s life. However in the meantime we are making every moment count and that’s all thanks to the generosity of local supporters we just wouldn’t survive”