Union J Star Named Essex Hospice Patron

Jaymi Hensley from boy band Union J has become a patron for an Essex children's hospice after making an emotional visit earlier this year.

Jaymi, 24, visited Little Havens Hospice in August as part of a volunteering day with Now magazine, alongside band mates George Shelley and JJ Hamblett.

The group, who rose to fame on the X Factor two years ago, helped to create a new garden at the hospice grounds in Thundersley.

Following their visit Jaymi, who saw a friend experience hospice care as a teenager, wanted to continue supporting the charity.

When Jaymi was at drama school aged 14, a friend was diagnosed with a life-limiting condition and spent time in a hospice before he died at 16.

Jaymi said: "When we were on the X Factor tour the other boys went to a hospice but I said I don't want to go - it was still too raw.

"When we came to Little Havens in the summer I was still apprehensive, I didn't want it to bring back bad memories but when we arrived everyone was so happy and the kids were so friendly and smiling, there was no sadness, and I realised what a special place it was and I wanted to help out."

Jaymi made his first visit to the hospice in his role as patron this week.

He said: "I had a lovely time. It was amazing to come back and meet some more families - as much as they're ill they are still smiling and the parents are so strong.

"Getting to come and experience what people are going through, what their stories are, helping if they need to talk and just being here to do normal stuff with the families, that's what it's about."

Little Havens is part of Havens Hospices which also incorporates Fair Havens Hospice for adults in Westcliff.

Little Havens play specialist Jane Harwood said: "The children and families absolutely loved meeting Jaymi and his band members when they visited in the summer so to have Jaymi on board as a patron and continued supporter of Little Havens is fantastic.

"Visits like this are such a special treat for the children and their families and help to continue making every day count."