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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Patients are the stars as Francis House premieres feature film

Francis House Children’s Hospice has launched a moving new film featuring families from across Greater Manchester who receive respite care and support services from the Catholic-founded hospice based in Didsbury.

The seven-minute film had its first screening to an audience of 500 guests attending a Hollywood themed fundraising ball held at The Mere Resort and Spa in Knutsford on Friday, 1st December.

One family who feature in the film are the Brookshaws from Ashton-Under-Lyne. Mum Andrea, describes the morning almost four years ago, when the eldest of her three daughters Isabel, awoke in a critical condition.

“Isabel was fine up to being seven. She just woke up one morning and couldn’t breathe, couldn’t talk, couldn’t move,” said Andrea. “She went to A&E and was put on a ventilator for 16 days.”

Although no formal diagnosis was given, it was suspected that Isabel had suffered a serious inflammation of the brain. She remained in hospital on a rehabilitation ward for six months with Andrea by her bedside.

“I remember one day they turned up with a wheelchair for her. I just thought it was for while she was in hospital, I had no idea it would be a long-term thing.”
In spite of desperate need, many families find it difficult to accept that their child could be eligible for the help and support from their local children’s hospice.

“We looked around Francis House and it’s not what you think it would be like at all, all you hear is laughing, it’s a really happy place. You forget it’s a hospice, it’s just somewhere that we all come to as a family and we make lovely memories.”
Isabel now 11, has regained her sight and is learning to eat again.

The video is presented by Coronation Street actress Sally Dynevor. After filming she spent time meeting some of the children, including Demi-Lee – a young fan of the soap.

Describing filming at Francis House as a “privilege” Sally said: “I am very pleased to be taking part in this video. Every time I come I meet children who are very poorly, but here they are supported with their families. It’s a wonderful charity and I’m just so pleased to be part of it.”

Francis House Children’s Hospice and the Francis House Family Trust was established in Didsbury in 1990. It was a Roman Catholic initiative but the then Bishop of Salford (later Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool) recognised the need for the hospice to be for people of all faiths and no faith backgrounds.

The charity relies on public donations to fund 88 per cent of its income. Francis House supports over 1200 people at any one time from across Greater Manchester.

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Picture: Sally Dynevor with Demi-Lee at Francis House. (photo: Francis House).