Deirdre Hanna: Westfield Local Heroes 2019
Palliative care pioneer keeps on offering compassion
Rev Dr Ian Mavor Foundation
Tireless. Inspirational. Resilient
Children’s author, palliative care pioneer and all-round humanitarian Deirdre Hanna has touched thousands of lives on the Gold Coast.
In 1994, she and her late husband, Rev Dr Ian Mavor, started the Gold Coast’s first Hospice, Hopewell Hospice. Next came the Paradise Kids charity to help children after a loved one passed away.
“We wanted the hospice to be a place of serenity and beauty where families could visit, where pets could come and stay, where children could sleep over, where bereaved loved ones could be comforted, and where the concept of hospitality for which the Gold Coast is renowned could be extended to those at the end stage of life,” says Deirdre.
She feels immensely privileged to be voted a Westfield Local Hero. “We started out to care for a few dying people but have cared for over four thousand children and two thousand adults, and we are continually expanding to care for more in the community.”
One of Deirdre’s main projects is the creation of educational resources for grieving children, including storybooks that explain the grief process in children's language. Another is the Paradise Kids Angel Choir, which builds confidence and self-esteem for the participants.
Although in her seventies, she says she still has a lot to achieve.
“I want to continue writing and training future generations in compassionate community service.
After her husband and co-founder died in the hospice they established, Deirdre started a foundation in his name to keep the charities going, and to honour his legacy of health education and spiritual care.
In 2016, she started Living Well Respite to provide emotional and social support for home carers by offering them a day out each week.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation.
The foundation will create five new workbooks to accompany the storybook collection, provide singing and performance training to twenty young people and host morning teas for bereaved adults.
“The grant will help us with these programs and will also help fund the foundation,” says Deidre.
__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __