DaisyChain PR Q&A – Julian Withers (Jessie May Hospice at Home)

DaisyChain PR caught up with Head of Fundraising and Communications at the fantastic Bristol-based charity, Jessie May Hospice at Home

DaisyChain boasts some great supporters and we thought it was a nice idea to find out what makes them tick and share that with you. This month, we catch-up with Julian Withers, Head of Fundraising and Communications at Jessie May Hospice at Home.

Julian, who lives in Henleaze with his family, has spent 13 years working for charities in Bristol and has been involved in fundraising for Jessie May for seven years. He previously worked at The Bristol Hippodrome.

Jessie May is a Bristol-based charity providing nursing care at home for children and young people with life limiting conditions.

The charity was established in September 1994 by Chris and Philippa Purrington, following the death of their baby daughter Jessica May, who died from a genetic condition known as severe Spinal Muscular Atrophy when she was only four months old.

Jessie May Nurses provide vital respite care, emotional support, end of life care, and bereavement support alongside family events that help create treasured memories.

You can find out more about the charity by visiting www.jessiemay.org.uk

Julian Withers
Julian Withers. Jessica-May Purrington, whose short life inspired the charity, is pictured over Julian’s shoulder.

DaisyChain: What’s the best part of your job?

Julian Withers: Without any doubt, it is meeting people. In my job I meet the most amazing children, families and a huge number of people who want to find out more about Jessie May and the work we do. It’s so satisfying when we manage to gain the support of someone that perhaps didn’t know about us beforehand…

DC: Who is the most inspirational person you’ve met?

JW: There are a few. A lady called Philippa Brown-John who is mother to Jessica May Purrington. If it wasn’t for her experience, hard work and perseverance that was born out of the most tragic of situations there would not be a Jessie May Charity and over 350 children and families across 21 years would never have received support from a Jessie May Nurse – quite a lady!

Also, in recent years we have had the good fortune to be working with Barry Hearn of Matchroom Sports through our relationship with World Snooker. He is someone who has built up his own empire in a business he truly loves but also has kept his feet firmly on the ground and his charitable work, including his support for Jessie May, is truly remarkable. There is something about his personality that draws you to him and you can’t help but hang off every word he says.

DC: If you didn’t work for Jessie May, what job would you be doing?

JW: A good question. I’ve always worked in organisations that have inspired me or interested me for some reason. I have a love of theatre and spent the first 13 years of my working life in that industry and moved on to work in the charity sector after that – again because the work/cause has inspired me. I’ve always liked rare/classic cars but never had the skill to take on a project and restore one so perhaps involved in buying, selling and restoring cars.

DC: What’s your best quality?

JW: Talking! Some might say that was my worst too!

DC: Where’s your favourite place in Bristol?

JW: A couple for very different reasons. The Bristol Hippodrome was not only a place of work for me but also is the one place that has had the biggest influence on my adult life. If it wasn’t for that building I wouldn’t have met my wife – we’ve just celebrated 25 years together.

Also, a few years ago I took up running and my usual route takes me round the edge of The Downs and through Clifton Village. There is a path that runs up steeply from the top of Sion Hill to the Observatory. My goal is to run up that hill and the top is the half way point on my run so I stop and have a rest. My reward is the view looking back to the Suspension Bridge. The best view in Bristol I think.

DC: What are you currently reading?

JW: I’ve just finished reading the autobiography of a man called Sam Shrouder. He was one of my bosses from working in the theatre and it is full of anecdotes about people I have worked with and I chuckled my way through it.

DC: What’s at the top of your bucket list?

DC: To see the Northern Lights. I went to Iceland last year in the hope I would increase my chances. One of the clear nights we went out in search of them having followed instructions from locals and guidance from an app. We waited and waited, thought they weren’t coming, went home to bed only to find out that they appeared an hour or so after we left.

DC: Have you got a secret skill?

JW: I can wiggle my ears. This skill is of no use to anyone but apparently is quite rare.

DC: Where’s your favourite place to holiday?

I like my holidays but my favourite place is Turkey. We regularly visit a place called Kalkan and we have got to know some of the locals and the area quite well. It is one of the places where we can go and truly switch off.

DC: What/who makes you laugh?

JW: Observational humour – I love the ability to laugh at everyday happenings.

DC: How would you like to be remembered?

A good dad and husband and hopefully someone who did a bit of good in the world.

DC: Happiness is…

Home, family, running and being inspired by people.

DC: How can people find out more about Jessie May and its amazing work?

JW: Please visit www.jessiemay.org.uk

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