A MUM who set up a hospice after the death of her son has won the Prime Minister’s volunteers’ award.
David Cameron has named Denise Whiffin, 62, from Great Baddow, as his Point of Light award winner in recognition of her work in setting up J’s Hospice, based in Great Baddow, the first of its kind in Essex providing palliative care for 16 to 40-year-olds.
Denise established the hospice after her son Jonathan was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at the age of three.
He died in January 2002, aged 18.
Denise told how his greatest love was dolphins, reflected in the hospice’s logo. During Jonathan’s teenage years, Denise realised there was a desperate need for specialist hospice and respite care for young adults who outgrew children’s hospices.
She said: “If this award could achieve anything, I hope it helps to let other young adults in Essex know there is age-appropriate care and support available to them through J’s Hospice.
“Our aim has always been to help young people to achieve their dreams and aspirations. Nobody knows how much time we have and we want to help them make the most of theirs.”
Mr Cameron, whose severely disabled son Ivan died aged six, said: “Losing a child is the most difficult and most painful experience imaginable, but Denise has done an incredible thing in honouring the memory of her son Jonathan.
“Denise is an inspiration to us all and I amdelighted to recognise her as a Point of Light.”
Chelmsford MP Simon Burns said: “As a patron of J’s Hospice, I am absolutely delighted Denise has won. This is richly deserved.”