Stepping into Chestnut Tree House it’s hard to believe that this could be the hub which cares for some of the county’s most ill children.
There is a warm, fuzzy feeling which spreads through me, giving me goosebumps, as I’m guided around the Poling-based hospice, near Arundel.
On the floor are toys and soft chairs. There are some half-completed children’s pictures, the paint still damp and fresh on their canvases. It reminds me of my own home, decades ago when I was a small child. It’s not at all as clinical and sterile as the word ‘hospice’ so often connotes. And for the scores of families across Sussex who use it, Chestnut Tree House more than just a hospice – it’s a home away from home. Caroline McCullough from the Chestnut Tree’s clinical nurse manager said: “I think people are always pleasantly surprised by the building and how lovely it is,” she explained. “Everyone always says that it looks and feels really homely.” Right now Chestnut Tree House cares for about 300 children and young adults from Sussex with progressive, life-limiting conditions. It currently costs well over £3 million each year to provide all the services offered by Chestnut Tree House. Families are never charged for their care and less than 8p in every pound is funded by the Government, so it relies heavily on the generosity of people across the county. Laura Moore, from Goring, has been attending Chestnut Tree House for about four years with her disabled son William. Laura said she is 100 per cent behind the China Trek challenge, which will take place in October next year. She said: “They have done so much to help me and my family. Please, just give it a go. Chestnut Tree House needs all the help it can get.” For more details on the China challenge or to join it, visit www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk or call 01903 706355.