‘It’s a place where young people and children come to live’

Left to right: Mika Strachan (6), Skye Strachan (4), Chevonne Newlands (34), Gregor Newlands (13), Mikey Strachan (3), Alistair Stewart with George Strachan (28) ''Picture by:  Malcolm Wells (150907-3817)
Left to right: Mika Strachan (6), Skye Strachan (4), Chevonne Newlands (34), Gregor Newlands (13), Mikey Strachan (3), Alistair Stewart with George Strachan (28) ''Picture by: Malcolm Wells (150907-3817)
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Youngsters who are cared for at Naomi House children’s hospice need the best possible care in the kindest, most welcoming environment.

They are given an opportunity to experience sights and sounds they may not have experienced before, and receive support, love and comfort from a team of dedicated staff and volunteers.

This ethos has been at the heart of what Naomi House has provided since it opened in 1997 – but over the years that heart has grown and so it was only right that the children’s hospice in Sutton Scotney, near Winchester, should expand.

As the number of families using the site has increased, so has the range and complexity of the needs of the children.

So a £4m fundraising drive called the Caterpillar Appeal was launched to update the building and services.

Now that caterpillar has evolved into a butterfly and, for the first time yesterday, families and dignitaries were given a chance to look around the revamped hospice.

It now has bigger bedrooms, a lift, wheelchair charging points, improved sensory rooms, a bereavement suite, separate areas for dining, playing music, doing arts and crafts and a lounge for parents to take a break in.

Lesley Brook, director of care at the hospice, says: ‘We were absolutely delighted to show people around our new children’s hospice.

‘It’s taken a lot of planning and everyone would agree the results have been spectacular.

‘We have enlarged all of the rooms and we have added in oxygen and suction pipes into the rooms.

‘We have put in cameras so parents don’t have to stay awake to monitor their child overnight, and can instead take the findings to their GP should a child have a seizure.

‘We have got wheelchair charging points which we didn’t have before, we have got more bathrooms, and every room has a hoist to help children move from one area to another.’

The hospice, which provides respite care for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, currently cares for 287 children and young adults.

Just over half are from Hampshire.

Broadcaster Alastair Stewart is patron of the appeal and was bowled over by the makeover.

He says: ‘We make precious time priceless. We make difficult times bearable. And heartbreak, well, we’re there.

‘Loving, flexible and sometimes just silent. But we are there.

‘Towards the end of September these lovely families and many others like them, will stride in and be here and make use of this place.

‘In the periods between now and then, our magnificent, brilliant, fearless staff will be learning the ropes.

‘So I suppose the bottom line is to say thank you

‘Thank you for what you’ve all done.

‘Thank you for allowing a magnificent crew to do a magnificent job for a magnificent group of our fellow human beings who are a little younger than we are and may not be here for as long as we are.’

There is an open day on Saturday so people can see the revamped facility.

Entrance is £3 per adult, £1 for children and free for under-fives. There will be a petting farm, shops and a bouncy castle.

Visit naomihouse.org.uk