Jack Rishworth

"Jack had a chest infection and was in and out of hospital for two years. We desperately needed help. We had no family we could rely on close by and Jack’s brother, Connor wasn’t getting the attention any child needs.

Hands up, I didn’t know Keech is our county’s children’s hospice – it’s our hospice for Hertfordshire! As a family we were at rock bottom. I always thought Keech was just going to be the place up the road in Luton where Jack would finally pass away. It’s more than a brick building though, it’s the place where we as a family got the support we so desperately needed, all without leaving the comfort of our own home. That’s right, Keech comes to you!

As soon as Jack left hospital, Keech was at our front door and offering us support in anyway we needed it. We were exhausted, emotionally drained and had few ideas about how to care for our little boy in the best way possible.

In all honesty, we didn’t know what we needed. It sounds terrible but I was putting books under Jacks bed and mattress to try and prop him up so he could breathe more easily.

Keech’s community nurse regularly came to our house and without her support things would have been very different. They helped us to get a tilting bed for Jack – no more books! The community nurse bathed Jack, answered our endless questions, came to meetings with us about Jack’s care needs and helped us to get the extra support we needed. She trained us on how to use the suction and nebuliser treatment Jack needed and even taught us physio that we could do to help his poorly rattling chest. Jack was putting on weight and my back was sore – Keech ensured we had everything we needed like a hoist and equipment that would make life easier. Its Social Worker even helped us to fill out forms to ensure we got the extra support we needed.

That’s the thing about Keech, it’s a charity which supports the whole family, not just Jack. We get to chat, relax and spend time with other families who know what we’re going through.

Keech gives us the chance to be a family. It has the most amazing hydrotherapy pool, it’s so warm and a place that we can go and swim as a whole family. What’s more, for a small fee, anyone can use it. In fact all the facilities are excellent from the beautiful sensory room to the teenage room packed full of equipment to keep children and their siblings amused. It’s offered us respite care where as a family we can stay at the hospice as and when we need to. We love going to the special children’s events and parties Keech holds. When one of your children is ill, siblings can feel left out. Jack’s brother Conor understandably felt this way and became quite angry. Keech offered Connor a music therapist who went to his school and helped his to deal with his emotions. It was a brilliant support for Connor and not everything was about Jack. Connor is also a member of Keech’s monthly Sparklers Group – it’s like a youth club I guess. From arts and crafts to days out and summer camp, Connor has made life long friends from it.

Contact Keech – it may sound blunt but it’s not just a place where children sadly go to die.  It’s a palace of life, a home from home and ironically happiness. Its staff and volunteers are amazingly fantastic. It’s definitely made a difference to my family and it could to yours or someone you might know. Keech knows how much effort you have to put in and how little time you have – it’s a friendly face when you need one. We didn’t pay for anything. If only people knew just what support there is. Get the best possible support for your child and your whole family when you and they need it the most."

- Mary, Jack's mum