Big Gesture from Big Mac

A BIG thumbs-up for Ronald McDonald Children's Charities! That's the verdict of visitors to the Angmering Chestnut Tree House Hospice at a series of family activity days, which started this week.

The burger chain's charity stumped up a massive 403,000 to kit out the family accommodation at the hospice and it has proved a big hit with visitors.

St Barnabas' Hospice spokesperson Gina Guarnieri explained: "We began holding a series of family activity days on Saturday for people who might well use the facilities, to come along and get an idea of what the hospice is all about.

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"The reaction has been great '“ they loved the family accommodation and were very excited about having a good look round the hospice."

Ronald McDonald Children's Charities (RMCC) has provided more accommodation for the families of children with serious or long-term illness than any other charity. Accommodation supported by the charity is provided free of charge and is designed to enable families to rest in privacy or to benefit from the experiences and company of other families, according to their own wishes.

This ethos fits neatly with that of the hospice, which was designed not only to provide comfortable and stimulating surroundings for children with serious or life-threatening illnesses, but also for their entire families.

Family accommodation is situated on the first floor of the hospice, providing a haven for parents and other relatives, many of whom are exhausted from providing round-the-clock care at home for the children.

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It gives them a chance to relax and unwind without feeling they are neglecting their loved ones, who are just one floor away from them and receiving expert care from a dedicated band of staff and volunteers.

RMCC's charity manager Stuart Silk said: "Chestnut Tree House will provide wonderful care for these children with the emphasis on fun, laughter and friendship.

"The family accommodation will allow whole families to stay together in a home away from home atmosphere and so will help to create some normal family life."

Chestnut Tree House Hospice will welcome its first overnight visitors in November and the family activity days will run until the end of September.

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The hospice can accommodate eight families in comfortablebedrooms, all with en-suite bathrooms and also includes a fully fitted kitchen, lounge and even a terrace to enable parents and siblings to enjoy the splendid surroundings.

Chestnut Tree House Appeal fundraising co-ordinator Paul Morris said: "I cannot stress how important these palliative care services are to a child or teenager and his or her family's well-being.

"A support network is critical to both the physical and emotional needs of the child as well as greatly benefitting parents and other family members in their time of great need.

"Support from RMCC is hugely important to the development of such projects, which are generally under-funded by the state."

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