THE founder of a children’s hospice who was made an MBE for his charitable work has died aged 84.
The charity was the idea of children’s nurse Julia Perks, who died of cancer before she could realise her dream. Mike, a good friend of hers, took up the challenge, registering the charity and naming it after Julia.
Along with a small group of supporters Mike got the charity off the ground, fundraising tirelessly over the years to grow the community nursing team and, in 2006, build Dorset’s only children’s hospice.
Julia’s House chief executive Martin Edwards said Mike was the “pivotal figure” in the history of the organisation.
“He made it happen and would not rest until these vital services for local children were up and running,” he said. “Mike was also the key driver in creating our family support services, as he had personal experience of the huge pressures of being a long-term carer.
“He was wise by name and wise by nature, an innovator, always positive, wickedly funny, and a great mentor.”
Julia’s daughter Natasha Valentine, who works for the charity as its charity shop manager in Poole, said: “His achievements have helped many families in need and he has left a truly remarkable legacy.”
Mike achieved a great deal in the community throughout his life, including being chairman of Poole Council for Voluntary Service and a non-executive director of South East Dorset Primary Care Trust, chairing its palliative care group.
A longstanding Rotarian, Mike was awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellowship by the charity for services to the community.
In 2007 when he was awarded his MBE, he said he accepted the honour “on behalf of all the volunteers” at Julia’s House.
In 2012, aged 76, he proudly carried the Olympic torch through the village of Fontmell Magna, north Dorset, after being picked by the national selection panel. In the same year, he undertook a sky-dive from 13,000 feet to raise money for Julia’s House.
After playing an active role with the charity for more than a decade, Mike retired from the board of trustees but remained the charity’s life president.
He was open about his long battle with Parkinson’s disease, said a spokesperson for Julia’s House, and “bore it with typical stoicism and humour”.
Mike was predeceased by his daughters Elspeth and Emma and leaves his sister Ann, daughter Vicky, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Funeral details are yet to be confirmed but will be subject to the current restrictions. At the request of his family, a collection has been established in Mike’s memory in aid of Julia’s House, to which people can contribute by visiting www.just giving.com/campaign/mikewise