Mother and son supported by children’s hospice join Santa and his elves race for charity

The Heal family

Mum Josie Heal, 40, from West Cambridge, is set to join Santa and his elves for a festive run next month in aid of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

The race takes place between Thursday 10 and Sunday 13 December.

Josie will be running in EACH’s virtual race, Santas v Elves, for Team Elves, along with 15-year-old son Dennis who has severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The family has used EACH’s services for the past 15 years.

Dennis has a group of lifelong conditions that affect his movement and co-ordination. He also experiences seizures caused by a problem with the brain which develops before, during or soon after birth.

Parents Josie and Jay discovered Dennis’ conditions at just six months old and EACH has provided support to the family since. They have used the short break care service at Milton, which provided the family time to unwind and recharge.

As Dennis got older, Josie found it more physically and mentally draining to look after him on her own, she feels fortunate to have carers to help her as she’s aware other families do not. The family accesses EACH’s family days and events and have many special memories from the Christmas parties. Dennis’ brother Max, 7, and sister Yasmin, 11, also attend EACH sibling days, allowing them to engage with other children in the same situation.

Josie said: “We found the short break care very beneficial when he was younger, to help get a break both mentally and physically. Also, when the time unfortunately comes, I know EACH will be there to offer support to his siblings and us when he passes.”

During the first lockdown the family had to shield Dennis for 12 weeks but were still able to receive overnight support. Understandably, they continue to be anxious about Dennis’ health in the midst of this pandemic.

Having received the help and support EACH provided, Josie wants to help raise money by running with Dennis in his buggy in the Santas vs Elves virtual race. With first-hand experience of knowing what families are going through right now, and the support they desperately need, the family has set up a JustGiving page for people to donate - here.

If you or anyone would like to join Josie and Dennis raising money in the virtual race, it’s FREE to enter and you can do so by visiting



East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) aims to maximise the quality of life for children and young people with a life-limiting or life-threatening condition, and to support their families.

East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH)