Close To Reality

THE ROOF is on, the pool and spa are nearly tiled, and fundraisers for the new children's hospice near Angmering have almost reached the three-quarter mark of their £5 million target.

Donning gumboots and a hard hat and wandering through a freezing cold building site on a wet December day is not everyone's idea of a great day out.

But this is no ordinary building site and what began as plans on paper, looks set to become reality in only a few months' time and the Chestnut Tree House Hospice team are getting very excited.

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Fundraising co-ordinator Paul Morris paid tribute to the band of dedicated people who helped to start the ball rolling: "I take my hat off to the people who raised the money in the first year of our appeal. The local community has been really strong, the majority of our funds have been raised by them."

Although no definite date has yet been set, it is hoped the children's hospice will be opening its doors in early July.

What is certain, though, is that children living in the Angmering facility will enjoy the best quality round-the-clock care in comfortable and stimulating surroundings.

"We want this to be a home from home, and not in any way institutional," said project director Robin Fanshawe.

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The purpose of the hospice is to provide care for the children who will live there, as well as enabling parents some time to rest.

Community learning disability nurse Bob Taylor explained: "Sometimes parents have to care for their children round the clock, and get up several times during the night.

"What this hospice and the respite care we offer in the community means, is that they can maybe just catch up on some much needed sleep."

And the hospice team have already begun their work in the community, providing respite care at home to allow parents a little time off, as well as organising get-togethers for those they care for.

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He explained: "Some families we meet in the community are 24-hour carers, and a lot of them just don't have anyone to support them. We might be the only people who can provide this kind of care for them.

"We are offering them a service which many of them never even knew existed."

The hospice is set in four acres of prime countryside, and will boast a hydrotherapy room, IT and music facilities and plenty of light and spacious recreation areas, both inside and out.

No stone has been left unturned, and planners have clearly thought of every possible want and need of the children who will be living in Chestnut Tree House.

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Plenty of activities will be laid on for them and their siblings. They include days out and living quarters for parents and a chapel have also been built.

"The chapel will be non-denominational, because although not everyone is religious, everyone has spirituality," explained Robin.

And the mudbath currently surrounding the building will be transformed into a stunning tree-filled landscape, complete with a special sensory garden all thanks to Greenfingers, which has pledged its services free.

Not only that, but the therapy area was the result of an anonymous benefactor, and the IT facilities will be provided by a Masonic charity, for which the team is extremely grateful.

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"We have been helped out by so many organisations, which has meant we can use the money we have raised to buy other things," Robin added.

A summer holiday programme is being planned on a non-residential basis for 2003 and Bob Taylor and his team are looking forward to this.

In the meantime, support for the new facility is as strong as it ever was, and although fundraisers have the task of raising the remaining 1.3 million, they are more than confident this will be achieved.

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