A week in the life of our Chief Exec

November 20, 2019

Ever wondered what a week in the life of Julia’s House chief executive is like?  Martin Edwards gives us a peek at his diary...


Still buzzing from last week’s Away Day, attended by 300 volunteers and staff. We only hold it every 18 months so we pack it with great talks from all areas of the charity. I never relax until my speech is over - I was on last, so I was on pins from start to finish! But it really worked as a motivational day.

Later I finish writing a key document for our Nurses, summarizing the learning from an incident in a children’s hospice elsewhere in the UK. It’s important that we learn from each other and we are vigilant in preventing serious mishaps.


I am negotiating our support contract with the local GP surgery. They provide a weekly visiting service to our Dorset hospice. The contract expires soon and we are seeking an extension! We are waiting for a hospital to weigh up if their doctors will take it over.

I also prepare my speech and auctioneering patter for tomorrow’s big fundraising event.


In the morning I meet a new NHS manager and show her round our Dorset hospice. We only get five per cent of our income from the NHS, and it comes with quite heavy reporting requirements.

In the afternoon we have the opening ceremony for a new garden sculpture at the hospice, which I host for the artists and funders. A lovely four-year-old girl who attends Julia’s House cuts the ribbon.


In the evening, it’s the big fundraising event: an ‘entrepreneur’s dinner’ with AFC Bournemouth manager, Eddie Howe, giving an after-dinner talk on his leadership style. Eddie warms them up nicely for the fundraising to follow:  I am on stage giving a football-themed speech about Julia’s House, and then I get my gavel out and auction eight lots. Auctioneering has become a sideline of mine at several of our events! We raise £28,000 from the night, organized by Evolve business forum.  


It’s back to earth with a bump with an all-morning budget meeting: the senior management team must hammer the 2020 draft budget into shape, working out what we can afford and what our fundraising income may be. It’s always a fine balance because we want to provide as much care as possible, but some key areas of our income, like legacies, are unpredictable. It’s looking like a tough year. By the end of the morning the budget is ready to go to our Board, once I write the commentary.

In the afternoon I make contact with a wealthy businessman to start courting him to raise funds for us next year. I also comment on the benefits of UK hospices for a journalist’s book about charities.   


A lady from Houston, Texas makes contact. She lost her child to illness, and found local children’s palliative care services sorely wanting – a familiar story in the USA. She is seeking advice about how to set up a service. Julia’s House has a profile in the States through a supporter there and I mentor care service founders in Florida and Seattle. We schedule a long phone call as a start point, with a six hour time difference. I also plan to put her in touch with the founder of a children’s hospice center (American spelling!) in Minnesota.

Finally I am ready for some weekend down time!

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