Why East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices charity needs a new £10m Norfolk haven

The East Anglia's Children's Hospice at Quidenham. Matilda enjoys some sensory playtime. Picture by

The East Anglia's Children's Hospice at Quidenham. Matilda enjoys some sensory playtime. Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Set in the beautiful surroundings of a peaceful country estate, it is difficult at first to understand why bosses from EACH want to leave their site in south Norfolk.

The East Anglia's Children's Hospice at Quidenham.Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

The East Anglia's Children's Hospice at Quidenham.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The listed red-brick building has been home to Norfolk's only children's hospice for more than 23 years.

However, it is only when you enter the hospice that it begins to become apparent why EACH has outgrown its site.

The tight corridors and cramped rooms were not built to be disabled- friendly and the lift of the two-storey building struggles to fit bulky wheelchairs.

The hospice has provided vital care and support to hundreds of families over the years.

The East Anglia's Children's Hospice at Quidenham. Nurse Kate Winser cares for Toby in the sensory r

The East Anglia's Children's Hospice at Quidenham. Nurse Kate Winser cares for Toby in the sensory room.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

However, the prospect of a £10m purpose-built hospice at Framingham Earl is one that excites staff; it would be bigger and provide services that Quidenham is not able to provide.

Jane Campbell, service manager for EACH, said running a modern hospice at the site next to the Carmelite Monastery was a logistical nightmare at times.

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The purchase of a new cot for one of the building's six bedrooms recently caused issues because it could not be dismantled and rebuilt.

'The cot had to be brought in from the fire exit and the cot did not fit in the lift and we had to take a door off and the surround off to get it in one of the rooms. It is very picturesque here and the house is lovely, but it is not fit for purpose,' she said.

The East Anglia's Children's Hospice at Quidenham. Play specialist Lyndsey Whitfield and senior care

The East Anglia's Children's Hospice at Quidenham. Play specialist Lyndsey Whitfield and senior carer Lily Napier looks after Matilda.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

The hospice at Quidenham provides a range of activities for children with life-threatening illnesses, including a soft play area and sensory room. The music room is more of a cupboard. However, EACH's plans for Framingham Earl, which were approved earlier this year, will have bigger rooms which will all be on one level.

One of the major benefits of relocating will be the prospect of a hydrotherapy pool, which EACH already has at its hospices in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Mrs Campbell said the new hospice would bring many practical benefits by having more storage space and having overhead hoists in every room to make it easy to lift children.

'Some children do not like to be handled and if you have to keep handling them, it is a real challenge for them and the staff and we do not like distressing them.

'We are moving closer to Norwich and it makes it more accessible for the whole of the county and it is going to improve our relationship with the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. The consultants would like to support us, but we are too far away.' A move would also bring other community benefits.

'We are really restricted here, but we are looking forward to walking children into the village and building links with the community. We have already made links with a singing group in Poringland,' she said.

EACH needs to raise £6m through donations and fundraising every year to run its three hospices in Quidenham, Ipswich, and Milton, in Cambridgeshire, and support services.

The Quidenham site has six bedrooms to provide one-to-one care and short breaks for children and supports more than 100 children and young people across Norfolk and 191 families through its bereavement support service.

Caroline Church, palliative care manager, added: 'We badly need a new hospice. We have to deliver care on two levels and we are in a listed building and the lift cannot be made any bigger and some of our bigger children cannot fit in if they have to be reclined. Even the doors are not wide enough for some of the wheelchairs.

'It is a lovely place with the environment and countryside, but we have outgrown it. Some of the families whose children have died come back for memory days every year and those families in particular will miss here.'

Are you organising a fundraising event to help the appeal? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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