This honour is given to a parish resident who the Council feels has made a significant unpaid contribution to enhance the lives of people, not only in Great Baddow but the wider community. The Burgess Award is not given out annually – the Council only makes this award if they feel that the recipient has been truly outstanding.
Denise has lived in Great Baddow for thirty years and was recognised for her voluntary work in setting up The J’s Hospice, a charity which supports young adults with life-limiting conditions and their families across Essex.
She realised that there was a need for specific hospice care for young people aged 16-40 when she was caring for her son, Jonathan, who was born in 1983.
When he was just three years old, Jonathan was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy which is a genetic disorder that causes the muscles throughout the body to weaken and degenerate. As he got older, his health deteriorated and he spent time as a teenager in a children’s hospice where he received excellent care – but most of the children in the hospice were under five so Jonathan had no social interaction with his peers while he was there.
Sadly, Jonathan died in Broomfield Hospital in 2002, just before his 19th birthday. It was a year later that Denise got the idea of setting up The J’s Hospice in his memory to provide age-appropriate care for young adults.
The J’s was launched on 1st March 2004 which would have been Jonathan’s 21st birthday. The charity got CQC registration in 2010 and began outreach working, becoming the first hospice service in the country to care for young adults aged 16-40 within the comfort of their own homes and in the community.
Denise has given much of her time over the past fifteen years as a volunteer, working tirelessly with her friends to raise awareness and support for The J’s. She regularly gives talks as an Ambassador of the hospice, goes out putting up posters for The J’s events and stands out in the cold holding a collection bucket. Her passion, enthusiasm and determination are an inspiration to everyone she meets.
The J’s Hospice has grown from strength to strength and currently supports around 100 young adults across Essex with a variety of complex needs, providing tailored nursing and emotional care, advice and social activities.
In April 2017, The J’s Hospice became part of Havens Hospices which includes Fair Havens Hospice for adults and Little Havens Hospice which cares for babies and children with life-limiting illnesses and their families from across Essex. Denise has now extended her voluntary role and is also an Ambassador for Little Havens.
Denise was presented with the award by the Deputy Mayor of Chelmsford, Councillor Christine Garrett, at the Great Baddow Parish Council’s Community Celebration on Saturday 16th March.
The evening was hosted by the Council’s Vice Chairman, Councillor Mrs Christine Shaw, who said,
“Denise Whiffin has made a truly outstanding contribution over many years in enhancing the lives of young adults and their families in times of great need over an area much wider than simply Great Baddow. She was the founder of The J’s Hospice, set up in memory of her son, and has volunteered continuously ever since. It’s hard to think of anyone more deserving of this award.”
Denise was thrilled to receive the award. She explained,
“I’m really honoured to be given the Burgess Award by the Great Baddow Parish Council. I have been living here for thirty years and it’s a lovely place. Thank you to all of my friends and neighbours who have supported The J’s Hospice over the years. It makes me proud to be a member of the Great Baddow community.”
To find out more about Havens Hospices please click here [http://www.havenshospices.org.uk/].