Royal visits and life-saving work: 21 years of Naomi House

Five-year-old Mikey Strachan and his family, from Stubbington, officially open refurbished Naomi House in 2015

Hundreds of families have passed through its doors, receiving incredible care and support.

Children’s hospice Naomi House and Jacksplace has been a place for young children and teenagers to get treatment for life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, as well as taking part in fun activities like other youngsters their age.

This year will give us a wonderful opportunity to thank the community for all they have done to support our passionate and progressive charity.

Mark Smith

And this year, the hospice is celebrating 21 years since it first opened, near Winchester.

Over that time the site, which cares for children from across the south including Portsmouth, Gosport, Havant and Fareham, has grown to include Jacksplace and other high-quality facilities.

It has had a number of royal visits including HRH Prince Charles, who officially opened it in 1997, and the Duchess of Cambridge who was given a tour in 2013 as part of Hospice Awareness Week.

To celebrate the landmark anniversary, Naomi House and Jacksplace will be holding celebration parties, fundraisers and themed events to make this year one to remember.

Mark Smith, chief executive, enthused: ‘Everyone at Naomi House is excited to be celebrating our 21st year of delivering care and support to the families who need us.

‘This year will give us a wonderful opportunity to thank the community for all they have done to support our passionate and progressive charity.

‘Naomi House and Jacksplace provide vital care to increasingly complex children and young people from across Hampshire.

‘We hope everyone takes this opportunity to learn more about our hospices, join in our celebrations and be willing to play their part in helping hundreds of children, young people and families to have access to palliative care services that make a huge difference to them on good days, difficult days and last days.’

The children’s hospice first opened 21 years ago after a community-led five-year £5m fundraising campaign.

The hospice took its name from Naomi Cornelius-Reid, who was the youngest daughter of the charity’s generous landlady, Mary Cornelius-Reid.

She offered space on her Sutton Manor estate for the hospice to be built.

Since opening, Naomi House and Jacksplace has cared for 1,144 children.

The family of Mikey Strachan know just how important the work of Naomi House and Jacksplace is.

The five-year-old, from Stubbington, his three siblings and parents have made numerous trips to the hospice since he was born.

It comes as Mikey was born with a large tongue and had an abnormally large head.

He developed respiratory problems and when he was nine-months-old he underwent surgery for a tracheostomy.

Mikey also has feeding difficulties so receives his nutrients and vitamins intravenously.

Due to problems with his breathing, he cannot be left alone and needs constant supervision.

His parent Chevonne and George praised the hospice and everything they have done.

Chevonne says: ‘When we came for our first visit, we stayed as a family.

‘My children think it is a holiday camp, they get so excited. Even if we go to drop Mikey off and leave him by himself, the children want to come so they can play.

‘We haven’t been able to go on holiday since Mikey was born so when he stays at Naomi House it is the only time we get any respite.

‘One of us has to be with him all the time, so we do rely on Naomi House a great deal.

‘All the nurses are absolutely amazing, they are fantastic.’

Naomi House and Jacksplace have a number of facilities, some of which are used for treatment and others for fun and games. Part of this is a swimming pool.

Chevonne adds: ‘I can’t take my children swimming in a public pool because Mikey isn’t allowed. At Naomi House we can still be with Mikey but someone can watch him while I go in the pool with the other children.

‘The whole atmosphere is lovely and makes you feel so relaxed as soon as you walk in.

‘I’ve got nothing but praise for everyone that works at Naomi House.’

In 2010 Naomi House opened Jacksplace, a state-of-the-art hospice dedicated to providing palliative care to young people from age 16 to 35.

Then, in 2015, it underwent a refurbish and the opening of Caterpillar House.

Now it is looking ahead to the future and, to mark this anniversary year, staff and supporters will be taking part in a number of events.

Keith Wilson, marketing manager, says: ‘To mark the anniversary year, we have laid on special events including an overnight climb of Pen y Fan mountain, in Wales.

‘Also on the events calendar are skydives, obstacle races, sponsored walks and the return of the hugely popular Hampshire Rainbow Run in September.

‘In addition, we will be inviting people to visit the hospices and see the work undertaken by the nursing and care teams during an open day and fair in September.’

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