Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice supports more than 50 children with life-limiting conditions, and their families, across West Yorkshire.
Since December 2012 the charity has been offering day care and overnight care and respite at Russell House, complementing its well-established hospice at home service. The state-of-the-art hospice has three planned respite beds, an emergency bed and the Snowflake suite – a self-contained apartment that families can use following the death of their child until the child’s funeral – as well as a hydrotherapy pool and sensory and music rooms.
Princess Beatrice had a tour of the hospice and met with children and families. She said: “It is an incredible honour to be here today to see this dream become a reality. For you all to have the security of knowing you have the right team so that your children, no matter what their condition, can be supported and have their best chance – the chance to be a family, the chance to be a mum… and that really is the most important thing.
“With all of your support I know this place can really be the pinnacle of child care. It’s a huge honour to be here today.”
To commemorate the opening, Princess Beatrice unveiled a sculpture donated to the charity by local sculptor Pat Walls. The sculpture was inspired by his daughters Georgina and Beth and is a wonderful symbol of childhood, happiness and laughter – values that are at the heart of the charity’s mission to make the lives of the children they care for happier and more fulfilled.
The hospice charity was founded more than 12 years ago as a result of the challenges faced by a local mum whose son, Russell, became very ill and needed hospice care. She was concerned at the lack of local support, and set about changing this. After years of fundraising, Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice began caring for local children and their families in 2010 through its hospice at home service.
Peter Branson, chief executive, said: “I’d like to thank Linda Senior for setting up the charity and finding new supporters to pass the baton onto, at first hundreds and then thousands and now even tens of thousands who believe we should have this local children’s hospice. I’d like today to be able to thank every single one of those supporters – from the little boy who sent us 20 pence of his pocket money to the family represented here today who supported us with half a million pounds over five years. But of course I can’t say thank you to every single one but I can hope that in the opening of the hospice we can make sure that everybody recognises their contribution to this day.”