This month we say farewell to Janette Welch, who joined our board of trustees 26 years ago, shortly before the opening of our first hospice – Hope House in Oswestry.

When Janette, who lives near Denbigh, became a volunteer trustee in 1994 the board had just embarked on the challenge of explaining the need for a children’s hospice to the communities of Shropshire, Cheshire, Mid and North Wales and raising the funds to build and run it.

Keen to be ‘hands on’, Janette set up a pop up shop for a week in her hometown to raise awareness of Hope House but also managing to raise a fantastic £1170 in just six days!

“As a primary school teacher I had witnessed the effects on families living with a child with severe disabilities, so the idea of a children’s hospice was at once close to my heart,” says Janette.

“When we opened in 1995 Hope House was only the 10th children’s hospice in the world. We were all on a steep learning curve.

“As the management team came into existence we, as trustees, had gradually to step back from the day-to-day running of the hospice. We were lucky from the start that we had a great team in whom we felt we could place our complete trust to carry out our aims.”

Keeping children and families at the heart of decision making

Over the subsequent years Janette remained a committed and active member of the board of trustees, keeping the children and families at the heart of decision making and helping the charity flourish and change in response to evolving need. For many years Janette was vice chair of trustees, providing sage advice and support to the chair and ensuring good governance of a large and growing regional charity.

Our chief executive, Andy Goldsmith, said that Janette had been instrumental in helping to establish the first Hospice at Home service that allows children to die peacefully at home with sufficient support and a specialist bereavement service for all local families whose child has died.

“Janette remained a champion for the needs of children and families living in the more remote areas of North Wales where access to services can be challenging,” he added.

“I am sure she will count as one of the most significant achievements the opening of our Tŷ Gobaith Children’s Hospice in Conwy in 2004, which is the only children’s hospice in North Wales. Uniquely, Tŷ Gobaith is able to support and care for children and families whose first language is Welsh.

“Janette has always been ‘hands on’ and could be found regularly volunteering with the team in the hospices, supporting the nurses and carers, engaging with the children and talking with their families.

“She has given her time, expertise, and passion selflessly for children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions and she can be rightly proud of her contribution to developing a stronger and more caring society where no one faces the death of a child alone.”

Janette says she will never forget her time as a trustee, or the time she spent at the hospices with the children and families, gaining insight into the difference the charity was making to their lives.

Making a difference

“As I look back I am proud to have been on a board of trustees who have consistently shown such care and consideration in their dealings with everyone,” she adds.

“The board has been forward thinking and always aware of new possibilities and, as the organisation has grown, it has become extremely business-like. It has been a huge privilege to be part of such a wonderful organisation.”

If you would be interested in finding out more about how you could help children and families by volunteering with Hope House Children's Hospices you can find out more about our latest opportunities here.