Demelza Hospice Care for Children
1914. Derek Phillips
Derek Phillips, from Fareham, founded ‘Demelza Hospice Care for Children’, one of the leading charities in the South East providing essential care for young people with serious or terminal conditions.
Derek set up ‘Demelza Hospice Care for Children’ in memory of his daughter Demelza, who died of a brain tumour aged 24 and had been dedicated to supporting children in hospices. Wanting to continue her legacy, Derek and his wife Jennifer began establishing a hospice charity in her name in 1994, with the first hospice opening in 1998 in Sittingbourne, Kent – a building which Derek, an architect, had designed himself. Derek faced further tragedy three years later after Jennifer unexpectedly died, but continued to focus his energy into his charitable work, expanding the ‘Demelza Hospice Care For Children’ further by merging with two other charities to open up two further sites in South East London and East Sussex. The charity now provides support every year to over 600 children, young people and their families, providing palliative, respite, end-of-life and bereavement care.
In a personal letter to Derek, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“I am lost in admiration for the fortitude you have shown since losing your daughter, Demelza, and how you have dedicated yourself to supporting other young people through hospice care.
The charity you founded is helping hundreds of families with specialist care and emotional support. This is a wonderful way of honouring Demelza and your late wife, Jennifer.”
Suella Braverman QC, MP for Fareham, said:
“Recently I visited Beck Lodge Care Home in my constituency where I met Derek and heard about the enduring charitable efforts he has made over the course of his lifetime. In response to such a tragic turn of events, Derek provided a point of light for so many in honour of his daughter Demelza. He continued her work with her always in mind. His efforts truly are of the highest calibre and have resulted in invaluable memories for people going through the worst imaginable situations of their lives. It is for Derek’s compassionate service and dedication to supporting children and young adults, and their families, that I believe he is fully deserving of being awarded a Points of Light award.”
Lavinia Jarrett, CEO of Demelza, said:
“Without Derek, there would be no Demelza Hospice. His vision – to build a hospice supporting children with serious or terminal conditions in Kent – has resulted in a vital service, providing specialist care and emotional support for over 600 children, and their families, across the South East, whether in our hospices in Sittingbourne and Eltham, South East London or in the community across East Sussex . This is a richly deserved award and huge congratulations from everyone at Demelza.”