Children's Hospices are places full of love, light and laughter.... just what familes need as they go through so much stress, pain and sorrow.
Traditional storytelling brings peace and pleasure - inspiration and comfort. It is a skill that has passed down through the centuries, but has largely been forgotten. Many parents no longer tell bedtime stories. Grandparents no longer tell stories by the fire.
The stories I tell are mostly folktales, old and new. They are stories that I love and that you are unlikely to find in a storybook.
When a child is need of hospice care the whole family suffers. I want to offer these families a chance to sit together quietly and listen to stories that will bring them laughter and fun - to create memories of happy moments together - to encourage them to tell their own stories. Sometimes I might be telling stories to a room full of people gathered together. At other times I might be at the bedside, telling a story to a solitary, sick child .
I have already told stories in the two children's hospices in Devon and Cornwall, as a volunteer, and the staff are eager for me to return on a more regular basis but have no funds to even cover my basic expenses.
On my last visit one child was crying inconsolably when I arrived. Soon she was laughing and chatting. As I left she called out loudly, 'You have made my day!'
But such visits need more financial support than I alone can give. Each hospice is an hour's drive away. And I need to earn at least a little money to survive. £5000 would allow me to become their resident storyteller for two years - visiting at least twice a month, but in practice, much more frequently than that, as I will be able to go in whenever the staff think my presence could be useful.
For the longer term, I will be keeping a blog of my experience over the two years and will produce a final report that can be used to demonstrate to other hospices and funders the value of traditional storytelling in such settings. The blog will be available for other storytellers to read a detailed description of my experiences. Hopefully this will encourage some of them to approach their local hospices.
I also hope to be able to write, record and video many of the stories and publish them online as a resource for both professional storytellers and families.
Please help... even the smallest donation will mean that I am a step closer to being able to return to the hospices to tell more stories to these children and families who really need them.