Project Humbert


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It’s almost embarrassing to admit that after a lifetime of care and education work, I had not been aware of the work of Children’s Hospices until very lately. The world of children dying of life-limiting conditions is not one to sing and dance about after all.

And yet when I came across the world’s first Children’s Hospice, Helen House in Oxford I was moved to deep emotion by the amount of joy, brightness of being and sheer good heart that I experienced there. And I thought ‘people should know about this’. So I wrote a little allegorical tale about a wee bear that, despite spending most of his life asleep, much like the children with life-limiting conditions, he has an adventurous and colourful inner life that makes all around him feel special in his presence.

I crowdfunded the first run of books and sent 10 copies to every Children’s Hospice in the UK as a Christmas present in 2016, 54 in total. Helen House’s manager, Kathy Patching, wrote a beautiful testimony about the experience of ‘meeting’ Humbert:

“I knew that there was something very special in Humbert from our first ‘meeting’. The beauty of the art work is of course obvious, but the tale is so meaningful to children and families who are living through a very difficult journey.”

Out of the blue, the organisation “Tellers without borders” who work with children in the world suffering trauma, saw the value of the book being translated into other languages and have funded the next wave of books to travel to children with life-limiting conditions in Spanish, German and Croatian speaking countries for Christmas 2018. Further fundraising has enabled the process of translating the book into French, Danish, Swedish and Portuguese.

‘Humbert’ is about the effervescence of hope in the face of adversity, it is about celebrating children’s hospices that offer bright and honourable respite and resting places for children who despite their all too short pain-filled lives engender generosity and charm in those around them the world over.

With your help Humbert can continue travelling around the world reminding us all of the importance of choosing joyful presence in the darkest of challenges.

Read more about the back story to Humbert in the newsletter of the International Children’s Palliative Care Network – here