Thursday, 14 October 2010
This week I had the overwhelming experience of visiting our local children's hospice in Ipswich. It was their open day and as you can expect, I didn't leave without a tear in my eye. None of us ever want to face the prospect of our children dying and visiting a place where this is a reality can't help but tug at the heartstrings.
Don't get me wrong, the hospice which is run by EACH isn't a sad place. The atmosphere in the converted bungalow was indeed a happy one and the positivity of the staff shone through as they told us how the hospice is used for short respite breaks, specialist play activities, music therapy and end-of-life care and treatment. As well as helping the children who have life-threatening conditions, the team also supports their parents and siblings through counselling services. It also organises fun activities and events where family members can meet families in the hospice's care.
For the children, the hospice is a fun place to be and staff make it feel homely, with a dining room, living room, bedrooms and a beautiful garden. However, it is clear that they don't have enough space. The music room doubles up as the parents' bedroom, the sensory room is also used as a bedroom and most of the rooms in the house also have to serve as meeting space. More importantly, when a child visits the hospice for end-of-life care, all other on-site services have to be put on hold. Although families understand, this isn't how it should be.
Thanks to an amazing fundraising campaign, which is supported by BBC Radio Suffolk and the East Anglian Daily Times, EACH is now well on their way to raising the money needed to help the Ipswich hospice move into a new larger home. Launched this year, the campaign known as the Treehouse Appeal has already raised £1.5million. However, it needs to raise the same amount again to pay for a purpose built hospice that will give them everything the children and families need.
It has been a fabulous campaign, which has inspired people all across East Anglia to take part in parachute jumps, organise fundraising events, enter sponsored walks, runs and bike rides. One of the Radio Suffolk presenters, Lesley Dolphin, is even attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
I must admit that with all this physical exercise going on, I am feeling a bit guilty that I haven't yet got off my backside to exert my muscles.
However, what I have done is somehow managed to blag a rare signed script for the last ever episode of the Ashes-to-Ashes series, featuring signatures from Philip Glenister, Keeley Hawes and all the regular cast.
And I'm very excited as this is being auctioned at BBC Radio Suffolk, live on air tomorrow morning, where the winning bid will be donated to the Treehouse Appeal.
Of course, it would be great if this could raise as much funds as possible, so do please tell any fans you might know and ask them to listen to the James Hazell Show from 9.00 Friday morning, when the auction is going to be launched by none other than Philip Glenister who played DCI Gene Hunt. Even if you're outside Suffolk, you can still listen in online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/suffolk/hi/tv_and_radio/. Anyone wishing to place a bid should call the studio on 01473 212121.
I can't wait to find out how much the script raises and if it beats my expectations, I'll probably be so excited that I'll dress up as Father Christmas and join in this year's Santa Run.
This is such a worthwhile cause and more information about the Treehouse Appeal and how else you can help can be found at the project's fundraising page: http://www.each.org.uk/how-to-help/treehouse_appeal/
1/11/2010...Apologies for the belated updated, but I'm pleased to share the news that the script auction raised a MASSIVE £750 thanks to the fabulous enthusiasm and media magic of James Hazell and Philip Glenister. It really was amazing!