Julia’s House children’s hospice charity is deeply saddened to announce the death of its Founder and Life President, Mike Wise MBE, aged 84.
Julia’s House was the idea of Julia Perks, a children’s nurse who had a dream to create a hospice service for Dorset children. Mike was Julia’s friend and a local Liberal Democrat councillor. When Julia sadly died of cancer before she could realise her dream, Mike took up the challenge, registering the charity in 1997 and naming it after Julia.
Along with a small group of supporters, Mike got the then unknown charity off the ground through fundraising, which led to employing the first two Julia’s House community nurses in 2003. He was the charity’s Chairman for its first decade, continuing to tirelessly fundraise in order to grow the community nursing service and build a Dorset children’s hospice, opened by HRH Prince Edward in 2006.
Chief Executive of Julia’s House, Martin Edwards, recruited by Mike in 2005, said: “Mike Wise was the pivotal figure in the history of Julia’s House. He made it happen and would not rest until these vital services for local children were up and running. Mike was also the key driver in creating our family support services, as he had personal experience of the huge pressures of being a long term carer. He was wise by name and wise by nature, an innovator, always positive, wickedly funny, and a great mentor.”
Julia’s daughter Natasha Valentine, who works for the charity as its shop manager in Broadstone, said: “Mike has been a close family friend for many years and I feel privileged to have seen first hand his incredible passion and commitment to Mum’s charity Julia’s House. Mike’s energy and enthusiasm has been the driving force behind making the dream of Julia’s House a reality and the truly special place it is today. His achievements have helped many families in need and he has left a truly remarkable legacy.”
Throughout his life, Mr Wise, who lived mainly in Christchurch, was a pillar of his community. One of Mike’s best known achievements was in setting up the popular craft and event hub, the Courtyard Centre in Lytchett Minster in the late 1980s.
He was also a Governor of Longspee Special School, Chair of Poole Council for Voluntary Service from 1981-1986, and a District Councillor from 1981-1995. From 2000-2006 he was a Non-Executive Director of South East Dorset Primary Care Trust, chairing its palliative care group.
Mike was a longstanding Rotarian and was awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary for services to the community.
In 2007 Mike was awarded an MBE, presented to him by HM The Queen, for his work for Julia’s House. At the time he told local press: “I am delighted with the award, which I accept for all the volunteers. You get something like this because you are surrounded by fantastic volunteers, but I would gladly exchange it in return for the Government funding children's hospices better. And I will use it as a means of furthering that campaign."
In 2012, aged 76, he proudly carried the Olympic Torch through the village of Fontmell Magna, north Dorset, after being picked by the national selection panel.
After playing an active role in Julia’s House for more than a decade, Mike retired from the Board of Trustees but remained the charity’s Life President. He was open about his long battle with Parkinson’s disease, which he bore with typical stoicism and humour, even undertaking a skydive from 13,000 feet to raise money for Julia’s House in 2012.
Mike was predeceased by his daughters Elspeth and Emma and leaves his sister Ann, daughter Vicky, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral details are to be confirmed, but which will be subject to the current restrictions. At the request of his family, a collection has been established in Mr Wise’s memory in aid of Julia’s House, to which people can contribute by visiting www.justgiving.com/campaign/mikewise