Ipswich hospice which helps poorly children marks 20 years
PUBLISHED: 11:18 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:20 31 July 2019
It may not take away the pain of losing a loved one, but it has made the sadness just that little bit easier.
And now families have now come together to thank East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) for 20 years of helping young people with life-limiting illnesses make the best of their lives at its Ipswich hospice.
An £80,000 fundraising campaign by the Ipswich Star helped the charity to open its first hospice in Suffolk's county town on Monday, July 26 1999.
Back then EACH had to make do with a modest four-bedroom bungalow in Walker Close but still made a crucial difference to the lives of young people, helping many to manage long-term illnesses and make the best of their final days.
With such a demand for its services, the charity was soon fundraising again for a new purpose-built hospice to provide even better care for more young people.
What became The Treehouse, opened by the Duchess of Cambridge in 2012, today supports more than 100 young people across Suffolk and Essex with state-of-the-art facilities, with relatives able to stay in adjacent rooms while children receive the highest quality care.
And on Friday, the 20th anniversary of EACH opening its first Ipswich hospice, families gathered for the annual Treefest event to thank the charity for its work and pay tribute to those it has cared for.
The beach-themed day included an afternoon of live music and art, with prizes awarded for the best cakes in a Treefest bake off.
Nathan Muskett, EACH service manager, said: "It's amazing to think EACH has now been serving some of the most vulnerable families in Suffolk and East Essex for 20 years, and we're so grateful to everyone who's supported us during that time, whether by fundraising, donating to our shops or volunteering.
"We hope we can count on everyone's continued support over the next 20 years, meaning families can keep benefiting from everything we offer, from end of life care and bereavement support to short breaks and family events such as Treefest.
"This year's was a great day of fun for all who attended and how nice it was for it to coincide with the anniversary of the old hospice opening."
Tony Golding, of Felixstowe, has volunteered as an EACH ambassador for more than 15 years after his grandson Samuel Perkins was cared for before his death, aged nine months, from spinal muscular atrophy.
Samuel was the first child to pass away at the hospice and spent the final three and a half weeks of his life at Walker Close.
"There is nothing wrong with a hospital, but a hospital is designed to make people better," said Mr Golding, 70, who regularly gives talks across Suffolk about EACH's work and the way it helps families in the hardest of times.
"Hospitals are great but the conditions being dealt with by EACH are much more complicated.
"EACH is about making things more comfortable for the child, but they also care for the family. They make the situation a little easier.
"It's hard to explain, but they help you be at peace. The children and their families benefit from the service EACH provides, not just in the hospice but at home as well."
Although the hospice helps make children comfortable in their final days, it also provides some respite care for children with long-term conditions.
The Treehouse costs £5,600 a day to run, meaning the charity is constantly fundraising in order to continue its services.
It also has a pool of more than 1,300 volunteers which it is looking to add to, with calls for people to help with fundraising, administration, bucket collections and community speaking, as well as helping at its charity shops.
To find out more about the charity, visit www.each.org.uk