First look around £10m hospice for children near Norwich
- Credit: Archant
Families with children facing illness and charity workers have had the first glimpse at a new £10m hospice near Norwich.
The topping out ceremony for East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) came as the £10m nook appeal, for a new hospice in Framingham Pigot, reached its £8.4m mark, with the final tile now placed on the roof.
EACH chair of trustees John Pickering, chief executive Graham Butland and Jamie Carter, of RG Carter, poured a bottle of beer on the building in a construction tradition.
The charity launched its nook appeal in 2014, to replace its loved but tired facility at Quidenham. The new site will include more areas for clinical care, a hydrotherapy pool, state-of-the-art sensory room, larger en-suite bedrooms and therapy rooms - across one floor.
It means EACH, which supports children with life-threatening illnesses, can reach more families.
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Among those benefitting will be four-year-old Rupert Wright, who lives with Hunter syndrome, a genetic condition affecting every part of his body.
His mum Naomi, who lives in Stanton, said when Rupert was diagnosed just shy of two years old, she didn't think they were ready for EACH's help, but realised what they could offer.
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'EACH has been there right since the beginning,' she said. 'They are so beneficial. They've given us so much. There have been lots of tears along the way as well, just through having to admit the disease and realise it's part of our lives now.'
She said the charity had offered support for Rupert's sister, as well as summer activities, a Christmas party and 'absolutely phenomenal' respite care.
While she said there would always be a fondness for EACH's Quidenham hospice, she said they were excited for the new one to open.
'Quidenham will always be really special to me,' she said, 'that's where we started, that's where we went after diagnosis. I suppose that little building will never leave me. It will always have a special place but this is phenomenal.
'The space, the fact that it's all on one level, the hydrotherapy pool is probably my biggest excitement.'
Graham Butland, EACH chief executive, said it was a 'very exciting' moment for EACH.
'We're keen to stress, however, that this is far from job done,' he added. 'The appeal total currently stands at £8.4m, meaning we have £1.6m of the £10m public appeal to raise by summer 2019, when we hope the nook can become operational.'
• For more information on how you can donate and get involved, click here.
A 'life and sanity saver'
Three-year-old Ava Weeks will be among those helped by the new hospice.
The little girl, from Brundall, lives with Apert syndrome, which affects how her bones develop and grow, meaning she has - and will continue to - undergo surgeries.
Her mum Carly, a former speech and language therapist, said EACH had been a huge support, with Ava joining a support group, and Mrs Weeks and husband Jonathan having counselling.
She said the counsellor had been a 'life and sanity saver', and helped her find coping strategies when people, both adults and children, stare and make rude comments.
'The trauma of Ava's numerous surgeries and investigations has been difficult for us to manage, and the ongoing nature of her condition means we're never quite sure when the next surgery will be, so the counsellor has helped me to deal with the endlessness and the uncertainty of her condition, and she's helped me work through some of the more harrowing things we've seen Ava go through,' she said.
Ava has even met another child with a rare craniofacial syndrome at the hospice. And her mum said while Quidenham is such a 'lovely, peaceful place', it will be excellent to have a larger, more accessible site.
Now to furnish it
While the building may now be taking shape, EACH has launched a campaign to help them furnish it.
Shop for the nook encourages supporters to fund everything from tea towels and cutlery sets to table lamps and anti-allergy duvets.
The list of items the charity would like people to help fund is 21 long, with the cheapest £3 and the most expensive £210.
Hannah Bloom, capital appeal project lead, said: 'There are plenty of items, especially for our new expanded family accommodation, people can help fund. In return, you'll be able to download a certificate recognising your support or to give as a gift if you're shopping for the nook in lieu of a Christmas or birthday present. All supporters will be invited to an open day at the nook once building is complete, hopefully in summer 2019.'
To shop for the nook, click here.