Bestselling author and children’s nutritionist, Annabel Karmel, visited our hospice building in Devizes recently to meet some of the families we care for.

Kyle Truman, Carmela Chillery-Watson, Annabel Karmel and Martin Edwards

Julia’s House children’s hospice provides free and regular specialist support for the growing number of local families, who are caring for a very seriously ill child with a life-limiting or life-shortening condition.

Annabel, who is a Patron and long-standing supporter of Julia's House, knows personally how important the respite and end of life care provided by our specialist team is for local families. Annabel’s infant daughter, Natasha, sadly died of encephalitis after developing a viral infection when she was just three months old.

“My daughter died in hospital, but I would have liked to have had somewhere like the Julia’s House children’s hospice to come and take her,” Annabel said. “In those times when you feel so desperate, to have a room where you can be with your child when they’re coming to the end of their life and to spend time by a memorial fountain like this one here – it would have been very comforting.

“They are very special moments in your life that you’ll never forget. Horrible moments, but at the same time the last memories you have of your child. So I think what Julia’s House and their nurses and carers offer here is amazing.”

Annabel Karmel

On her visit to the Julia’s House hospice, Annabel brought her three happy dogs - Skye, Bono and Pushkin – to meet youngsters, Carmela Chillery-Watson and Kyle Truman. The children’s food guru also shared some homemade chocolate chip cookies, made from a recipe in her new Fun, Fast & Easy Children’s Cookbook.

Carmela, from Market Lavington, loved taking Skye for a walk around the accessible hospice garden and enjoyed Annabel’s cookies, commenting they were “yummy!” The eight-year-old has a rare and heart-breaking form of muscular dystrophy, affecting just one child in a million, which causes her muscles to waste away over time.

Annabel said, “It was lovely to meet Carmela and Kyle, and explore all the facilities and garden here. I was involved in fundraising for the hospice when it was first built around five years ago, so it’s brilliant to see how it’s being used today. It’s such a happy and wonderful place for families to come.”

Annabel Karmel with Kyle

Julia’s House Chief Executive, Martin Edwards, said, “I first met Annabel in 2012 when she presented the Healthcare Charity of the Year national award to Julia’s House. She has been a wonderful Patron and supporter for Julia’s House ever since and it was a pleasure to show her around the hospice and introduce her to some of the children and to our team.

“As a charity we receive just eight per cent ongoing Government funding, so we’re incredibly grateful to our Patrons for helping to raise awareness and to the public for sustaining our lifeline of care for the most seriously ill children and their families.”