12:00PM, Thursday 21 June 2018
“This is not the end, this is the beginning.”
That was the message from Fiona Devine, the co-founder and CEO of the Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice, as it welcomed its first children after years of fundraising.
The purpose-built £7million facility in Woodlands Park, which is the first children’s hospice in Berkshire, saw its first day visitors arrive on Monday.
Children could not contain their excitement as they explored the sensory, music and creative learning rooms.
Gemma Bird, from Gerrards Cross, visited the hospice with her three-year-old daughter Sophia, who had intensive chemotherapy last year after being diagnosed with leukaemia.
As Sophia picked up a handful of cuddly toys, Gemma said: “To see her play is incredible. This place is just amazing and beautiful. All the staff are so supportive and caring.”
She said Sophia was very anxious during her treatment and the nurses from the charity supported her with home visits.
“It’s so important that she gets to do normal things, and the staff get it, they really get it,” added Gemma.
The Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service was set up by Fiona and John Devine in 2007, a year after their eight-year-old son Alexander died from a rare brain tumour.
Work started on the hospice in August 2015 and it includes six child bedrooms, two adult suites rooms and a hydrotherapy pool.
Gladys Odele was visiting with her 17-year-old son Olutomi, who has cerebral palsy. She said: “We’ve been waiting for this. This is the best thing that’s happened to us.”
Manor Green pupil Aaminah Ahmed, four, is one of just two people in the United Kingdom with a rare blood vessel disease.
The disorder causes her to have regular muscle spasms and she is also blind.
Her mother, Salma Hussain from Slough, praised the nursing team and called the opening of the hospice ‘amazing’.
She said: “She loves the sensory room.”
Fiona Devine thanked the community for their support in opening the hospice but said the hard work starts now so the hospice remains sustainable.
She said: “We are at the start of another new and amazing chapter. We often refer to our supporters, donors, volunteers, children and families as our story makers. Without each person writing their own stories or experiences within our story we would not have achieved what we have to date.”
She said the hospice will allow families more choices in care delivery and the community service is still the ‘cornerstone’ of the care it provides.
She added: “As we start our newest chapter it is vitally important to remember this is not the end, this is the beginning.”
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