DERBYSHIRE businesses are coming on board with a special project spearheaded by a much-loved charity so highly valued by a local hospital nurse that she does not know what she would do without it.
Melbourne-based me&dee, which supports more than 500 East Midlands families a year, has launched a campaign to carry on its work helping provide comfort and happy memories where potentially life-shortening illnesses have been diagnosed.
Now businesses are coming on board to sponsor the charity’s symbolic keepsake elephant – ‘Hope’ – which provides comfort to hundreds of families by allowing siblings, parents and other loved ones to record secret special messages via special pouches in its ears, one of which is home to a voice recorder.
Because an elephant famously ‘never forgets’, Hope offers comfort to families with parents able to listen to last messages – and even snores – of their children who have sadly passed away. It has another zip-up ear pouch for storing hand-written secret messages and an additional pouch which some parents who have lost children have used to tuck in precious items like small pairs of pyjamas.
Kirsty Bowles, a play specialist at Burton Hospital, said ‘Hope’ offers a unique and special way of helping families cope with the darkest times. Many families going through hospital treatment have used the cuddly keepsake to record messages to each other – including siblings of which one is going through cancer treatment.
“Hope is so unique. You can record special messages. It can be used if you have got a bereaved parent and you can record a sound of their child for them. It’s so bespoke – there’s nothing else like it. You perhaps can’t fully appreciate the power of Hope unless you have used it and seen what it means to people. There is so much that me&dee does for us, it’s hard to put into words. I don’t know what we would do without them.”
Maria Hanson MBE founded me&dee 17 years ago to help families facing short or uncertain futures to make memories together. Founded through conversations with her cousin Delia – ‘Dee’ – who sadly died from cancer in 2005, the pair were determined the charity should never insist applicants have to tick a box in order to receive support. Today it is helping hundreds of families in the East Midlands.
Under me&dee’s sponsorship project, businesses can have their own ‘Hope’ branded with their company logo, while sponsoring a year’s worth of the keepsake elephant to benefit families who may be facing their last days together.
The first Derby business to sign up was Penguin PR from Duffield Road, with Derby sustainable washroom firm HSG now the proud owner of its own branded Hope, along with Ripley-based transport logistics company A.I.M Commercial Services Ltd.
HSG managing director Simon Rice said the work of me&dee was ‘unbelievable’ and he had supported the charity in the past by sponsoring a tee at its charity golf day.
“Sponsoring a Hope the elephant was a no-brainer for us. The me&dee charity does amazing work supporting hundreds of families in their hour of need and it seems a small price to pay for giving people comfort when they are facing the worst. I was blown away by the charity’s work when I met its founder, Maria Hanson, and I’m delighted to offer some support. The stories they tell about the people they have helped are unbelievable. I’d urge other local businesses to do the same.
“This charity has also been supported by its new patron, Derby County footballer Craig Forsyth, through his testimonial game and other events this year – which has been great to see.”
Allison Kemp, managing director of A.I.M Commercial Services Ltd, said me&dee was an ‘amazing charity’ helping not just families, but also couples, one member of whom may have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.
“It’s a local charity and I know the support is going to local people who need it. It’s just about making life bearable for people. Our Hope is currently in our office window making everybody smile! When I heard about me&dee and its work I thought ‘Wow – that’s amazing’. I like the fact it is not just for children. The charity paid for a couple to have some quality time in their last days together. Its work is tailored to who they are supporting. Maria is the most special person ever.”
“We are delighted to see businesses come on board to sponsor Hope. It’s hard to explain until you’re in that position yourselves what power this little elephant has. Families tell us what they dread most is forgetting the sound of someone’s voice after they have passed on. We know of parents who have spent grieving time cuddling this elephant, listening to their loved one’s voice, and being comforted. That’s why it’s so important to us for businesses to support us in our initiative.”
Gifting a Hope for 12 months with the option of a specially branded keepsake with your company logo costs £35 a month, a sum which is also tax deductible. Please visit: https://meanddee.co.uk/page_of_hope/ for more information.