My name is Maria Hanson, I am 65, I have two daughters, son in laws and 4 amazing children – my grandchildren from age 3 to 16. I now have the initials MBE added to my name. Five years on, that still feels surreal.
How did that happen you may ask, how did I become awarded with such a huge achievement, the pinnacle of my success?
In 2005, I established my registered charity – me&dee.
Why? As with many people, they set up a charity when they, their partner or child have been failed by the system. When the support they needed was not forthcoming and they decide to come back from extreme adversity, kick ass, and look to make changes to ensure that others may benefit from that experience. For me this has been a case of ‘what didn’t kill me, made me stronger’.
Following multiple life saving and body altering surgeries, I ended up going through a divorce and needing rehoming with my two young daughters. My cousin Delia had cancer, and we found the situation I was in through being so very ill abysmal, along with the long winded and tick box process to find support. We decided to set up a charity to break the mould, working without a salary and a phone on 24 hours a day with no tick boxes on forms. Delia died as the dream became a reality and I have carried her in my heart and the charity name through these 13 years.
In 2014, working through my own adversity and reaching my 2000th family supported saw me presented by Prince Charles with an MBE at Buckingham Palace.
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Me&dee charity, based in Derby in the East Midlands offer holidays to both adults and children of any age, with life threatening, life limiting and terminal medical conditions.
me&dee charity is a registered charity that arranges memory holidays at the seaside in Mablethorpe on the beautiful Lincolnshire coast in two lovely spacious caravans based on the Grange Leisure Park, giving families a chance to make memories together when time is very precious.
The charity was formed to create special moments and memories to both children and adults who have a life threatening, life shortening or a terminal condition.
So, imagine, you receive news that a loved one has been diagnosed with a condition that will change not only their life but the lives of the whole family, in one short sentence everything changes, your whole routine alters to focus on that one person that needs the support and treatment that the diagnosis requires.
Maria Hanson MBE, our founder and CEO, wanted to prove that a simple seaside holiday could provide a place where the families could get back together as a family, away from the hospital ward, needles, doctors and nurses, for just one week, be a family again, a family that could make precious memories together.
Every effort is made, that if necessary, we can accommodate respirators, kidney dialysis, carers and nurses and an exhaustive list to ensure this potentially last holiday has a high impact for our families.
Our holiday homes are fully equipped with everything that people need for the week they will spend at the seaside. The caravans have quilts, pillows, mattress covers and bedding the kitchen is fully equipped, the families bring their own food and drink
me&dee charity, making memories by the sea when time is short, and life is precious.
“If you had a loved one who was living with a life limiting condition, if your family was facing a short and uncertain future together, you would want to make the time they had left together as special as possible, wouldn’t you?”.