Introducing: Clair Holdsworth, Chief Executive
Company name: Martin House Children’s Hospice
Company website: www.martinhouse.org.uk
Social Media: Facebook/Twitter/Instagram – @martinhousech

After a challenging year for so many charities, this week we caught up with Clair Holdsworth, CEO at Martin House Children’s Hospice in Wetherby, to hear how they have coped…

When was the company founded and how has it grown?

Martin House was only the second children’s hospice in the UK, opening in 1987, and it serves the whole of West, North and East Yorkshire.

We also opened Whitby Lodge in 2002, which provides a more independent setting for teenagers and young adults.

In the past 34 years we have cared for thousands of babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and supported their families throughout their lives and in bereavement.

Why do you stand out from your competition?

Children’s hospices are unique and special places. At Martin House our care is family-centred and holistic – we look at the child and their family as a whole, and tailor our care to support their individual needs.

We have a multidisciplinary care team, which includes Paediatric Palliative Care Consultants, Clinical Nurse Specialists and a Clinical Psychologist so we have a huge amount of clinical expertise to give to families, but in a relaxed and home-from-home setting.

We want children and their families to live their lives well and fully, and so our care is also about helping them to make memories together, and have unforgettable experiences.

How has Covid affected your business and how did you cope?

The pandemic has been challenging on many levels. From a care perspective, we’ve had to make changes to the way we support families.

We’ve had to limit numbers in the hospice to help us protect both families and our staff. We’ve also done a lot more outreach, both by phone and video calls, and with staff going to families’ homes.

Crucially, however, we’ve remained open throughout to families who have needed emergency or end of life care.

Clair Holdsworth, CEO at Martin House Children’s Hospice (@nikkipixyork)

In fundraising terms, the last 16 months have been very difficult. We had to cancel or postpone so many events last year, and we’re still having to think very differently about how we can fundraise in an ever-changing climate. It cost us £2.2 million in fundraising income in the first 12 months of the pandemic, and we expect it to be another financially challenging year ahead.

Through it all, our staff and volunteers have been exceptional. We all share a real passion for what we do, and to ensure we give the best to families. Everyone has worked so hard to make sure we are still here for families when they need us.

Who would you most like to have a drink with and why?

That’s a difficult one, maybe James Martin, a Yorkshireman who I’m sure would have some interesting stories to tell.

It would be great to have that drink at Martin House where he’d be able to meet some of our team who prepare food for children and their families, and maybe offer some new recipes.

Or perhaps Bruce Springsteen – we are always on the lookout for a headline act for LodgeFest, our annual music festival in our gardens!

What advice would you give the next generation starting their careers?

I started my career as a physiotherapist, but what drew me to children’s palliative care was the time given to caring, and the one-to-one care given to children and young people.

It was refreshing to be able to make an impact in a setting where the focus is on doing the best you can for families and making a genuine difference to their lives. So I would say look at where you can make a real impact in your chosen field, and that will bring you enormous satisfaction.

Why do you like doing business in Yorkshire?

It’s a privilege to offer our specialist care across Yorkshire, and we’re working hard to ensure that we reach more people who need us.

Something the pandemic has highlighted is the need for good palliative and end of life care, so it’s important that we reach out to make sure everyone who needs us are able to access our support.

How can people support Martin House?

Martin House relies on fundraising and donations for nearly 90 per cent of our running costs, so your support is vital to us, and to families in your community. There are so many ways you can help, including making a regular donation, donating and buying from our charity shops or taking part in one of our fundraising events and much more.

You can learn more about the ways to support us at our website – https://www.martinhouse.org.uk/

Name your favourite local business and explain what makes them special.

We’re lucky to have the support of so many wonderful businesses in Yorkshire, that it feels unfair to single anyone out!

Would you like to feature your business in the Your Harrogate Business Focus? Email Claire Strachan (claire@clairestrachan.co.uk) for your chance to get involved.

Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.