Top Volunteer Award for Local Hospice Service Founder

The founder of a local hospice service for young adults has been awarded a prestigious volunteering honour.

Denise Whiffin from Great Baddow picked up the League of Mercy at a ceremony in London on Friday 10th September. Only 25 awards are bestowed each year to volunteers who work tirelessly in the care sector

Denise set up The J’s Hospice in 2003 in memory of her son, Jonathan, who was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy aged three. As Jonathan grew older, he spent time in a children’s hospice. Although he received excellent care, Denise could see that there was a lack of age-appropriate care for older teenagers and little social interaction for Jonathan with his peers. Sadly, Jonathan died in Broomfield Hospital in 2002, just before his 19th birthday.

One year later, plans began for setting up a hospice for young adults like Jonathan in his memory. On 1st March 2004 – what would have been Jonathan’s 21st birthday – The J’s officially launched, and started caring for young people aged 16-40 in their own home in 2010 once the CQC registration had been granted, a service which continues to this day.

For the past 18 years, Denise has been volunteering to raise awareness, funds and support for the service, which is now part of Havens Hospices.

Denise says, “Whilst it is a great honour to accept the League of Mercy Award, I do so on behalf of the hundreds of other volunteers who believed in The J’s since day one. Their unwavering support has helped create a service which has supported hundreds of young adults and their families living with complex or incurable conditions.”

Havens Hospices relies on the support of volunteers like Denise. With more than 900 working across the charity – around half of these within its charity shops – volunteers are vital to help provide care, raise money and help the smooth running of the charity behind the scenes.

To find out more about volunteering at Havens Hospices, please visit

Published 24th September 2021

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Denise Whiffin and Zoe Jay