Sunday, 1 January 2012

Write Dreams

Once upon a time, a beautiful and desperately ill young girl made three special wishes. She left a little red box at her bedside where they were found after she died on New Year’s Day 1996. Donna Curtis had just turned 20. She had spent her last four years fighting cancer. In that time Donna saw the suffering of many terminally ill children and vowed her legacy would help them live a little more happily in the time they had left.

Donna’s Dream House is a holiday home for children and teenagers with life-threatening or terminal illnesses, situated in the heart of Blackpool. The Dream House is run completely by volunteers and encourages and sparks the imagination. It’s how any child would imagine the perfect holiday to be. It’s full of light and laughter, fun and - most importantly - life. Since it's start, Donna's Dream House has hosted and helped almost 380 families. 300 of those children have now sadly passed away, but the families who are left behind will always cherish the memories from Donna’s Dream House.

The house consists of four family apartments, all with themed rooms for absolute escapism. Themes include Winnie the Pooh’s Den, Cartoon World, Teddy Bear World and a Tangerine Room decked out with Blackpool Football Club merchandise. As well as each family having their own ‘apartment’, there is a fabulous garden area to the rear of the house, a center for teenagers, and possibly the most poignant room of the house, a pretty wooden chapel-like quiet room set on its own grounds. The next phase of the house was to build a bereavement centre, where parents and relatives can go to be with others in similar situations.

Source: Blackpool Gazette

Except on Wednesday 21st December 2011, in the middle of the night, arsonists broke into the office building and adjacent health center. There they stole essential computer equipment and damaged the suite, before setting fire to the furniture. When the fire was discovered, it was almost too late. The building was so badly damaged that it may have to be rebuilt completely, with total damages estimated in excess of £80,000/$125,000. More importantly, the fire destroyed photographs and mementoes of Donna, and hope. The opening sentence of Donna’s Dream House’s website reads: Christmas is cancelled. For some of the families due to attend it might have been the last one.

We think no one - Scrooge or Grinch - should be able to cancel Christmas.

In 2011 we organized Write Hope and raised money for the Save the Children Emergency Relief Fund, to help the children struck by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The response was overwhelming. Because of it, because we know how amazing this community can be, we hope to repeat that success.

What happened to Donna's Dream House quite literally hit much closer to home for one of us, but there is so much more about it. Because the holiday season shouldn't be about going through the ashes of a place that brought love and hope to many. It should be about spending time with your loved ones and remembering those who can't be there anymore. It should be about making memories that will last a lifetime.

It should be about making the world a bit kinder, wiser, better. And at the start of the new year, exactly sixteen years after Donna's death, this is the perfect place to start.

We'd love for you to be in too. Sign up, spread the word. If you have ARCs, books, critiques, swag to spare, pop us a mail. If you're a publishing professional, agent, editor, author, who wants to participate, pop us a mail.

If you want to help, pop us a mail.

Thank you <3


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