Julia’s House Sibling Worker Maria Carroll is celebrating 12 years in her role by taking part in a very special fundraising skydive challenge. Originally planned for 2020, to celebrate her 10 year anniversary, COVID is finally allowing Maria to take the plunge on Saturday 4th September (weather permitting!).
Maria was encouraged to sign up to the 13,000 foot skydive by Diana Lawrence, whose younger sister Gabrielle we cared for, and Diana will also be jumping for Julia's House at Maria's side.
Gabrielle was born with Hemimegalancephaly, a rare neurological condition in which one half of the brain is abnormally larger than the other and causes severe seizures. While Gabrielle was looked after by the Julia’s House nurses and carers, her mother was able to take a break from the exhaustion of round the clock care. Diana and her sister Carly were also able to benefit from our flexible and holistic approach to care. They were introduced to Maria, who provides specialist support to the siblings of the seriously ill children we care for, and Maria has continued to support the sisters as they made the transition from teenagers to adulthood.
Gabrielle died three years ago, aged just 15, but her family found some comfort in the knowledge that her heart could be donated to help prevent another family from losing their loved one. Tragically, just 20 months later, the girls’ mother Maria also passed away, hours after attending a remembrance service for bereaved families held at our Dorset Hospice.
Diana recalls: The last day I ever got with my mum we spent at Julia's House for a remembrance day with other families that have gone through losing a loved one. We spent the day making arts and crafts, eating scones and cake and mainly remembering the happy times we all shared with Gabrielle. Julia’s House have always been like family to us, I'm so grateful for everything they have done. Without them I would not have had the most amazing childhood. From their help and support we've been able to create our own happy memories that will last a lifetime.”
Maria says: “In 2019 I was wondering how to celebrate my ten years as a Sibling Worker with Julia’s House. I have met pop stars, Olympians, comedians and footballers. I have dressed as a mouse and held a (massive!) spider. I have given group talks and listened to individual stories. I have slept in 2 museums, once with a dinosaur. I have laughed a lot, I have cried a bit and I have LOVED it all. When Diana asked me to join her jumping out of an aeroplane I said yes without giving it a thought. My role at Julia’s House has allowed me to support remarkable families like this through the toughest of times and we continue to support them.”
Diana adds: “The help and support has never stopped, the Julia's House team still check up on us to this day. They have really helped us cope through the hardest of days and we honestly can't thank them enough. This is my time to give back after all their support.”
Show your support by sponsoring Maria and Diana via their Just Giving pages here: