EMH Schools’ Project wins award

So happy the amazing work at the Earl Mountbatten Hospice is getting recognised. Sophie you really are making a huge difference in Children’s Services at the Hospice…

Huge congratulations to everyone involved in the EMH Schools’ Project, which last night won an award at the ‘Celebrating Age’ awards ceremony, organised by Age UK. Co-ordinators of the project, Pauline Hull and Katie Mansbridge, were presented with the accolade in the ‘Age Friendly Arm in Arm’ category, for enabling people across generations to work together and bridge the gap between young and old. The project has so far been a huge success, and for the next year is being funded by KissyPuppy as part of the expanding children’s services at EMH.

Hospice wins award for its work with school children

Earl Mountbatten Hospice has been commended for its ongoing work with Island schoolchildren.

The ‘Schools’ Project’, which aims to de-mystify death and dying among youngsters by introducing them to the Hospice and its work, won the award at an event organised by Age UK. Hospice staff collected the award in the ‘Age Friendly Arm in Arm’ category, for enabling people across generations to work together and bridge the gap between young and old.

The project was the brainchild of Hospice CEO Nigel Hartley some years ago, and has grown over the past 15 years into a UK-wide and international initiative, allowing schoolchildren to visit the hospice for consecutive sessions during which time they meet andbuild relationships with staff, volunteers and patients. So far the sessions have been predominantly with primary schools but the project is opening up to older children too.

Nigel says: “We are naturally delighted that the Schools’ Project has been recognised on theIsland. Initially, there was some scepticism among parents who were naturally wary of their sons and daughters spending time at a hospice, but the reactions from the children – sheer enthusiasm and not a jot of fear – were enough to quell any doubts parents may have had. These children will go on to spread the word that the Hospice is not a scary place, and help to dispel the myths surrounding hospice care.

“We are looking forward to continuing the project and reaching to as many children as possible. We extend our continued thanks to Gemma and Aaron at KissyPuppy who, as part of the continued expansion of children’s services at the Hospice, are funding the project for the next year.”


Our Story

The Sophie Rolf Trust – Registered Charity 1156155

Sophie Rolf was a beautiful, happy, larger than life little girl. She enjoyed doing all things little girls love, especially her swimming and dance classes.

Sophie started school in September2011, joining her big brother Jack at St Saviours Primary School in Totland on the Isle of Wight.

During May 2012 we noticed a tremor in Sophie’s left arm and, after numerous hospital visits and finally an MRI scan in June, we received the terrible news that no parent wants to hear – Sophie had a ‘Supratentorial high grade Glioma, bilateral thalamic tumour’.

This is an aggressive brain tumour located in a very awkward part of the brain. We were told that the tumour was inoperable and the prognosis poor. Sophie faced things that no child or adult should have to go through. Neuro surgery to fit shunts, central line surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, a trial drug, numerous MRI & CT scans, homeopathic drugs and other tests were all met with determination, strength, courage and most of all always a smile.

She made us so proud to call her our daughter. As a family we never gave up hope and actively pursued other medical opinions from Europe and the rest of the world – however each reply reinforced the original diagnosis.

Sadly Sophie lost her fight in November 2013 at home alongside her family that adored her so much. She didn’t suffer and as always, she decided when the time was right.

‘KissyPuppy’ was originally set up to enable friends and family to fund raise for Sophie and initially was used to support Sophie’s journey through this including travelling to and from appointments on the mainland, any equipment needed and creating magical experiences and memories.

We chose the name ‘KissyPuppy’ as this was a word Sophie used for a very special sort of cuddle and kiss reserved only for her big brother Jack.

What this devastating process highlighted to us as a family was the limited healthcare options available for children with life shortening conditions on the Isle of Wight.

There is no specialist children’s hospice on the Isle of Wight. Families are offered the option of travelling to Winchester for respite or end of life care, which is a three hour journey each way, relying on Ferries. Travelling to the mainland at the point when Sophie was very poorly is something we did not want to be thinking about.

The Earl Mountbatten Hospice provides comprehensive end-of-life healthcare for the Isle of Wight community. They support and care for adults living with and dying from a life-shortening illness and, working in partnership with the local NHS, they are extending these services to children.

Sophie said early on in her treatment that she wanted to help other children as they have helped her………so that is what we have pledged to do. We have joined forces with the Earl Mountbatten Hospice and the local NHS to help support and develop services on the Island for children and young people, and their families, with life shortening conditions.

Over a period of time a range of services will be developed offering flexible, individualised care and support, in the place of choice, built around the unique needs of each family.

Services will be coordinated centrally, and delivered by a multi-professional team, working together with each family to support their wishes and care choices. Sophie’s first project was to provide an area within the existing hospice building that will be suitable for use by children and their families.

The area was to provide the equipment needed to fulfil the medical requirements of the individual whilst at the same time recognise the needs of the family as a whole.

From day one Sophie was an inspiration to all. She never once complained or grumbled about what she was going through. She greeted each and every day with a smile and her attitude and spirit made her fundraising such a success that within a few months she had raised the £10,000 target set for the first project.

At the beginning of November 2013 Sophie, just a few weeks before she passed away, opened the children’s rooms at Earl Mountbatten Hospice, a massive achievement of which we are so proud of her for. Sophie had already started on her next project, a Playground, within the grounds of the Hospice.

In her short life, Sophie has changed Children’s services here on the Island. We, as Sophie’s family, recognise there is so much more to be done. Kissypuppy – ‘The Sophie Rolf Trust’ is now a registered charity.

We are committed to helping the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, local NHS and other interested parties in the continued development of services for children and their families with life shortening illnesses on the Isle of Wight.

We hope we can continue Sophie’s good work and make a legacy she would be proud of.