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Hospice care through a nine-year-old’s eyes

All the children we provide care for use the hospice in different ways and we have multiple services we can offer to support children and their families. From care at home, to fun activity days and short breaks at the hospice – no two children’s experience of Chestnut Tree House is the same! George is one of the children we provide care for, and he’s very kindly shared his personal experience of what the hospice is like.

Meet nine-year-old George. Cheeky, chatty, and clever, George has spinal muscular atrophy – a progressive condition which causes all the muscles in the body to gradually weaken. He uses a wheelchair and needs constant care and support. In his blog, George tells you more about his life and all the fun things he gets up to thanks to Chestnut Tree House.

George’s blog:

Hello everyone. Can I tell you a joke?…. What do eggs do for fun? Karayolke!

I’m nine and I’m going into Year 5 in September. I like gaming, Star Wars, Freddie Mercury, and my favourite Michael Jackson song is The Way You Make Feel. My best subject at school is maths and I want to be a pop star and a scientist when I’m older. I love horses, cats, and I have a dog at home who likes having her tummy rubbed. I don’t really like pigs and cows because they’re smelly and make too much noise. Did you know that when pigs fall asleep, they snore like us?

When I go and stay at Chestnut Tree House, I like to spot all the animals there too. The garden is magical. It’s like a fairy land and I’ve seen horses, mole hills, and a deer with big antlers. One of my favourite things to do is play hide and seek in the gardens. It’s funny seeing the nurses and care support workers running around. I always hide outside, but I’m not going to tell you my hiding spots because then you’ll know where to find me!

A selection of doodles

My favourite person to have fun with at Chestnut is Jack. Hi Jack if you’re reading this! He is the best activities leader in the world, and he has a great personality. He says to me, “I will always play with you.” That’s my man.

Jack knows I love gaming most. We play the Marvel game on the PlayStation together. And we play FIFA and most of the time I win! Once we played it projected on the ceiling which was cool.

I also like singing with Jack and other people in the music room. My favourite song to sing is Sherry Baby by the Jersey Boys. Do you know it? I know all the words. Jack plays the piano and sings along too. Sometimes he can be a bit embarrassing because he makes the girls laugh. He’s a bit cheeky like me.

This is Jack:

Jack as a Pirate!

When I’m at the hospice, I also practice my acting. You might have seen me at one of the Talent Shows I organise. I make posters and we hand out tickets. At the Jubilee Party there were 31 people, so I decided to also do my ventriloquist act there as well. My puppet is called Dave. We’re not perfect yet, but we’re getting better.

My favourite thing about staying overnight at Chestnut is the comfy beds. And the food! Especially Sarah’s lasagne and roast dinners. Some people can’t eat very much, and that’s like me. I have a button on my belly which means I get some of my food through a tube which goes into my stomach.

After dinner I get to watch Emmerdale, like I do at home. And then when I go to bed, I can stay up late and watch a movie. On the first night away, I can miss everyone at home, but on the second night I’m alright.

When I’m back at home, Susan and Jackie come to visit. They work for Chestnut Tree House too and we go out and do lots of fun things. I like it because I get to decide where we go in the car! My favourite thing is going out for fish and chips, and we’ve also been bowling and to the arcade. They are very kind to me.

Today, we’ve been to Knockhatch Adventure Park. We played a cool game where you shoot people with foam balls, and I also got to see Barney. He’s a cockatoo and he’s my best friend. He wasn’t very chatty today, but normally he says “Ello” and makes the ringing noise of a phone, which is funny.

This is Barney:

Barney the cockatoo

I also fed the llamas and the goats. Leaning down to give them some of the food was a bit hard because of my brace. I have to wear it because my back isn’t straight like most peoples. Next year I’m having an operation where the hospital are going to put metal rods in it to make it straight. And then I won’t have to wear a brace! My lungs will have more space and I will be able to do things more easily. Like feeding goats and going swimming in the pool with Jack at Chestnut. I’m going to stay there soon and I can’t wait to see him!

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A smiling nurse in the grounds of Chestnut Tree House pushing a child in a pushchair.

Get to know more about Jack and the activities we have at the hospice

Jack and the rest of the Activities team have written some amazing blogs about their work, why not also check out: