It should be third time lucky for Julia’s House sibling worker Maria Carroll whose skydive challenge has been postponed twice due to Covid.
Maria was encouraged to sign up to the 13,000-foot skydive by Diana Lawrence, whose younger sister Gabrielle was cared for by Julia’s House. And she thought it was a good way to mark her 12 years with the hospice.
Gabrielle was born with Hemimegalancephaly, a rare neurological condition in which one half of the brain is abnormally larger than the other and causes severe seizures. While Gabrielle was looked after by the Julia’s House nurses and carers, her mother was able to take a break from the exhaustion of round the clock care. Diana and her sister Carly were also able to benefit from the charity’s flexible and holistic approach to care. They were introduced to Maria, who provides specialist support to the siblings of seriously ill children cared for by Julia’s House, and Maria has continued to support the sisters as they made the transition from teenagers to adulthood.
Gabrielle died three years ago, aged just 15, but her family found some comfort in the knowledge that her heart could be donated to help prevent another family from losing their loved one. Tragically, just 20 months later, the girls’ mother Maria also passed away, after attending a remembrance service for families held at the Julia’s House hospice in Corfe Mullen.
Diana said: “The last day I ever got with my mum we spent at Julia’s House for a remembrance day with other families that have gone through losing a loved one. We spent the day making arts and crafts, eating scones and cake and mainly remembering the happy times we all shared with Gabrielle. Julia’s House have always been like family to us, I’m so grateful for everything they have done. Without them I would not have had the most amazing childhood. From their help and support we’ve been able to create our own happy memories that will last a lifetime.”
Maria said: “In 2019 I was wondering how to celebrate my ten years as a sibling worker with Julia’s House. I have met pop stars, Olympians, comedians and footballers. I have dressed as a mouse and held a (massive) spider. I have given group talks and listened to individual stories. I have slept in two museums, once with a dinosaur. I have laughed a lot, I have cried a bit and I have loved it all. When Diana asked me to join her jumping out of an aeroplane I said yes without giving it a thought. My role at Julia’s House has allowed me to support remarkable families like this through the toughest of times and we continue to support them.”
The skydive will raise money for Julia’s House and is finally set to take place on 4 September, weather conditions permitting.
You can support Maria by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/supportingsiblings-my10yearcelebration
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