When Alan Morris begun fundraising to help build Hope House Children’s Hospice back in 1993 he couldn’t have foreseen that 30 years later he would visit his little grandson here.

Alan, from Rodington near Shrewsbury, organised one of the first fundraising events to help raise the £1.5 million needed at the time to build a place where seriously ill local children and their families could be assured of help and support during the worst of times.

“I knew about the hospice movement, and I had heard about the appeal to build a children’s hospice in Shropshire so I decided to help,” he recalls.

“I’d fallen out of love with my job and decided to put all my energy into helping Hope House. My first adventure was to climb the Three Peaks, which wasn’t at all a well-known thing to do 30 years ago. But I didn’t want to do it by myself so I got a bus and 50 people to come with me and do it too and that was how it started!”

And start it did with the first Three Peaks Challenge raising £12,000! The hospice building itself was nearing completion and Alan visited our site at Morda, near Oswestry, to present his cheque along with his fellow runners.

Grand Opening event

“It was then that I was asked to organise something special for when the hospice was due to open its doors in 1995 so I came up with the idea of a 225 mile relay around the area the hospice was to cover,” Alan remembers.

“About 75 people took part, taking turns to run five mile stretches over 36 hours in sun, rain and even two inches of snow at Blaenau Ffestiniog! We had two support vans moving everyone around and we started at Telford before running through Mid Wales, North Wales, Chester and back to Oswestry where we were joined by the comedian Don McClean for the last leg to hand over the key to the door. It was an amazing weekend.”

Alan has continually supported Hope House in the years since. He started and organised the Pontesbury Potter for many years, ran the London Marathon and held more group adventures including running  the five highest peaks in Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland (Slieve Donnard) and Ireland (Carrantoul) in 48 hours , not just once but twice!

Latterly he gave a talk about his life, which raised a further £2,000 and brought the total raised to almost £100,000!

It makes it all the more poignant that Alan’s latest visit to Hope House has been to see his eight-year-old grandson Ruairi settled in for his first respite weekend stay with his dad, Alan’s son Tim.

Ruairi's story

Ruairi was diagnosed with the life-threatening muscle-wasting condition Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy at the age of three.

“Ruairi didn’t try to walk the same as other children. He couldn’t crawl but he would hold his hands up for you to pull him up and that was how he sort of learned to walk,” says Alan.

“He gets tired now and uses a wheelchair, but he can ride a bike. Tim has an elastic tow rope and pulls him along behind his bike and they’ll do six miles or more. He also likes asking me off-the-wall questions like, ‘Grandad if I put my hand in an over will I get burned!’ He’s a real character!

“We talked as a family about Ruairi coming to Hope House, and his mum and dad came for a look around. I know that the hospice is a great place and I’m all in favour of Ruairi coming here and the family getting all the support they can.”

Alan’s main aim now is to help spread the word about the funding that is needed to keep Hope House running and available for all the seriously ill children who need help both now and in the future. Just 20% of our running costs are met from statutory sources, with the other 80% coming from donations, fundraising and gifts in wills.

A charity that does wonderful things

“The families who really need Hope House and Tŷ Gobaith often don’t have a chance to earn lots of money because they are busy looking after their children, and that does take lots of money too, so it really is down to public support and people fundraising and doing things like leaving a gift in their will,” Alan explains.

“When I have finished my life I want to be able to think that I did a bit for others and that the world is a better place for what I have done. I would say to anyone, if you raise money for a charity that does wonderful things, like Hope House, nothing will give you more satisfaction.”

Find out more about how leaving a gift in your will can help children like Ruairi