The sister of the first girl ever to be cared for at Brian House Children’s Hospice has raised more than £1,100 in her memory.
Michelle Bond and her husband Darren walked non-stop for a whole day and night, completing 100km in less than 24 hours from London to Brighton in memory of Aymie Johnstone, and in thanks for the care she and her whole family received at the Bispham-based hospice.
Michelle was 15-years-old when Aymie first came to Brian House just after it opened in 1996, and she still remembers the care staff gave not only to her sister but to her whole family.
She said: “I remember how Brian House came into our lives, and gave us the chance to have some family time with mum and dad.
“The nurses would look after Aymie and we would be able to do things Aymie would never have been able to do.
“I remember how Aymie started to develop more after being at Brian House.
“She loved to listen to music and make sounds in whatever way she could.
“She liked to be around the other children, and we just knew when she was there we didn’t have to worry; she was safe.
“I still remember how I loved the staff – they looked after us as well as Aymie, because they know that a life-limited child affects the whole family.”
Aymie had cerebral palsy, and continued to visit Brian House for respite care until April 2000, when she became too poorly to visit.
When she died in the August of that year, her family returned to use the hospice’s Butterfly Suite, allowing Michelle, her siblings and her parents to sit with her until her funeral.
Michelle, who now lives in Buckinghamshire, said she had always wanted to do something to raise money for Brian House.
“I was thinking about Aymie the whole time,” she added.
“She is what kept me going.
“It was a tough wall, but it’s just a case of mind over matter and you get through it.
“We literally were constantly walking for almost 24 hours.
“We set off at 8.30am on the Saturdayand finished at 8.15am on the Sunday.
“It’s amazing that we’ve raised so much money.
“You don’t realise how generous people can be when you tell them your story.
“It’s been quite overwhelming.”
Michelle and Darren visited Brian House with their children Harry, 12, and Maisey, seven, Michelle’s mum and dad, Susan and Ian Johnstone, her brother Mark and his fiancée Becky Johnston and baby Isla.
Mark said: “When I look back on that time I don’t really remember much about Brian House, but it must have been such a great place not just for Aymie but for mum and dad too, giving them the opportunity to have some rest.
“It was somewhere they trusted and really valued.
“Although I don’t remember too much about it, I have done some fundraising for Brian House through events because, without people doing things – people like Michelle and Darren – Brian House simply wouldn’t exist.”
Michelle and Darren handed over a total of £1,162.50 to staff at Brian House.
Carol Wylde, Clinical Manager of Brian House Children’s Hospice, said: “Even though it’s been 18 years, there are staff here at Brian House who still remember Aymie as the happy, bright little girl she was and they will always have very fond memories of her and her family.
“It was wonderful to be able to welcome Aymie’s family back into Brian House again after all these years.
“We are incredibly grateful to Michelle and Darren for raising so much money for Brian House.
“What they did won’t have been easy, but it means we can continue to care for children and young people like Aymie, helping to support families who need it right across the Fylde coast.”