Julie Kent MBE

“Only when we get lost can we find our true path.” Julie Kent MBE

I hope this story inspires others to find joy and purpose through the action of giving time, giving energy and giving themselves to something greater to help others.

I will take you back to 1992 I had married Bern a handsome loving man. We had our first baby Emily. I was still playing the saxophone at gigs in bars and clubs, and Bern doted on Emily. In 1994 we discovered that Emily had a brain tumour.

It was on December 8th that we went for a scan that they said was just routine and we were taken in an ambulance to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. Emily was operated on and never walked again after that. She started chemotherapy on Dec 22nd. At this point I didn’t even know what chemotherapy was, no-one in my family had had cancer. Emily lost her hair quickly and we spent almost all of the next 6 months in and out of hospital until our 3 year old girl Emily Kent passed away on June 15th 1993.

While we were in the unit visiting Emily, they could never get a scan to see how the chemotherapy was doing because of the lack of anaesthetic equipment so they decided to start a charity in her Emily’s name to raise money for that. When things are meant to be, they happen easily with real momentum. The charity for Emily grew rapidly raising money for children with cancer in Gloucestershire and in total Julie and Bern raised over two hundred thousand pounds in the space of six years.

Following a donation by the charity to The Pied Piper Appeal of fifty thousand pounds, the new oncology ward at Gloucester Royal Hospital was named after Emily Kent along with the Day Care Unit at the new children’s hospital in Bristol. 

Since this happened Julie Kent MBE went onto volunteer, chairing and being involved with many extraordinary charities. Julie won the hearts and minds of thousands of children whilst serving as a Housemistress at a prestigious boarding school for thirty years inspiring all children in her care to “Always aim high and Give more!”

Emma Taylor Warden of Dean Close School where Julie was a house mistress for thirty years described her as “The epitome of glamour and giving.”

Julie Kent MBE wanted to let people know that losing a child doesn’t mean losing yourself, it can help you find your path and your purpose to help others.

“Grief is a journey and different for all , giving helped me to heal as Ann Frank said no-one has ever become poor by giving.”

In the book by Stephen Post, Ph.D & Jill Neimark Why good things happen to good people, they talk about how trauma can lead to transformation. The ones we lose can be a beacon of good who inspire us and light the path ahead.

Julie seeks to help women that have recently lost a child find ways of coping.

Here’s some guidance from Julie to help bereaved mothers :

  1. Try and find someone who understands who has lost a child through the same way if possible. Through a group or through friends or recommended professionals. They are the only people who will understand. Your friends and family will say what they can but won’t have felt what you are feeling.
  2. Don’t be rushed into anything. Leave everything in their room  as it was if that helps.
  3. Keeping busy helped me. With hindsight I should have spoken to someone and got counselling to process my grief. For me helping others and channelling my grief into energy to help other children suffering from cancer helped heal me.
  4. To not give up on yourself you have to dig deep, if you have a faith, even a little one…use it…get someone to pray with you. If not, talk about how you feel, some people don’t know what to say and that is fine…find a good listener. Look after your partner too…you may handle it differently.
  5. Be kind to yourself and surround yourself with kind people that understand your way of dealing with things.
  6. Keep healthy habits turn to exercise, move more
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Julie Kent MBE is the chair at the Cheltenham Open door charity, Vice Chair at the Pied Piper Appeal, Ambassador and Trustee of Goals Beyond Grass and very recently retired as House Mistress at the reputable Dean Close School. On the queens 2020 honours list Julie was awarded with an MBE for services to charity.

“Only when we get lost can we find our true path.”

Julie Kent MBE