Dermot O’Leary visited St Helena this week as one of the stops on his Toto the Ninja Cat book tour, meeting patients, families and children.
St Helena invited members of its Starbursts support group, which is run for children who have lost a parent or grandparent, and their families, to attend the exclusive book reading at The Hospice on Thursday afternoon.
The families spent an hour meeting, chatting and having their photos taken with Dermot and enjoyed a reading from his children’s book, Toto the Ninja Cat and the Great Snake Escape.
After spending time with the Starburst families, Dermot was then given a tour of The Hospice by matron, Sue O’Neill, meeting patients staying at The Hospice for support managing complex care needs, and their families. He even had a cuddle with The Hospice resident cat, Paddy.
The catering team at St Helena also provided refreshments for the event, and even baked a special cake for Dermot, decorated with an image of Toto the Ninja Cat.
Dermot also kindly gave signed copies of his new book to all the children supported by Starbursts.
The TV and radio presenter and author, who is also patron of St Helena, said: “As a local boy, being back in my home town of Colchester, it was great to visit St Helena, support the great work of the hospice and to meet the wonderful families supported by Starbursts.
“The children were full of energy and were a joy to chat to! As a big cat lover, it was also lovely to have a cuddle with The Hospice’s cat, Paddy.”
Sophie-Leigh Brunton, who attends Starbursts, said: “I was chatting to Dermot about the challenges and events I’m doing this year for St Helena and trying to get him to do Walk of Memories in Mersea too!
“He got along with the children so well, he was very interactive. It has been really nice meeting him today – really special – and great memories to take away.”
Lauren Davis said: “It was very nice to meet him again. He’s such a lovely and genuine guy.”
Lauren’s dad, Andrew Davis, added: “It’s nice to know that he came to his local hospice, Colchester, and came somewhere you wouldn’t expect to see him. It’s nice to know he cares.”
Cherie Smith, St Helena’s Family Support Lead, said: “We would like to say a big thank you to Dermot for visiting us and making some happy memories for the children and families we support through Starbursts.
“We all really enjoyed having him with us, hearing about his book and sharing cake with him. It was so kind and generous of him to give all our Starburst families signed copies of his book too.”
St Helena helps local people face incurable illness and bereavement, supporting them, their families and carers.
Starbursts is a monthly drop-in bereavement support group for young bereaved families. It enables children to meet children, teenagers to meet teenagers, and parents to meet parents in similar situations. At each drop-in, there is an opportunity to remember the person who has died through a range of creative activities alongside having fun and making friends.
To contact the St Helena Fundraising team, please telephone 01206 931 468 or email firstname.lastname@example.org , Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm.
24 hour advice: SinglePoint 01206 890 360
SinglePoint is a 24/7 advice and support helpline which helps to coordinate an individual’s care with the hospice. SinglePoint also works alongside other healthcare services such as GPs, Community Nurses or Specialists.
To contact a patient at The Hospice please find the address and telephone number below. Phone calls can be made to patients at any time of the day or week. You can contact Inpatient Services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The Hospice, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, C04 9JU
Telephone: 01206 845 566
You can contact The Hospice in the Home Team Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 845 566
Tendring community team
Telephone: 01255 221 222
You can contact the Joan Tomkins Centre (Colchester) Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on:
Telephone: 01206 848 163
Fax: 01206 752 245
You can contact the St Helena Tendring Centre (Clacton) Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01255 221 222
Tendring Centre Postcode for Sat Navs: CO15 1EU
The HR Team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
To contact the St Helena Finance Team please telephone 01206 931 450 Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Volunteer Services team can be contacted Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm on 01206 931 466
For all media enquiries between 9.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday, please phone the Marketing and Communications team directly on 01206 931 464
If you, or a member of your family has a life-limiting illness and would like to discuss whether St Helena care services can help, you can contact the SinglePoint telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 01206 890 360
To contact the St Helena Bereavement Support team please telephone the bereavement helpline: 01206 984 274, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm
The Learning and Development Centre is open Monday to Friday between 9.00am and 5.00pm and can be contacted on 01206 851 560
For more information on the St Helena Service User Group please contact Chair, Ken Aldred on 01206 751 397
To contact the Lottery team please call 0800 285 1390 or visit the website here, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.
If you would like to write to or visit the Lottery team, the address is: Your Hospice Lottery Office Unit 6 The Atrium, Phoenix Square, Wyncolls Road, Colchester CO4 9AS.
Feedback, comments and complaints about St Helena care and support services may be made verbally or in writing to: Director of Care, St Helena, Myland Hall, Barncroft Close, Highwoods, Colchester, CO4 9JU. To speak to a member of our team, call 01206 845 566