Julia’s House, the Dorset and Wiltshire children’s hospice charity, has paid tribute to those who helped make the opening of their new Wiltshire hospice a reality.
Julia’s House Devizes, the first children’s hospice in Wiltshire, had its official opening on 6th May, attended by its Patron Martin Clunes.
Julia’s House Chief Executive, Martin Edwards said: “We couldn’t have built the hospice, or launched our Wiltshire care service, without incredible local and international support. The response of the public and the determination to make this happen for Wiltshire families has been fantastic.
“Having the support of the community, now and in the future, is vital because Julia’s House is almost entirely community funded. We simply would not be able to run this vital service without their ongoing help and generosity."
Fundraising for the new hospice took just two years thanks to some substantial donations and the efforts of local people, Julia’s House Friends’ Groups and businesses.
Beyond the bricks and mortar of the build itself, money was also needed to help pay for nurses, carers and some of the running costs for the rapidly expanding service.
Celebrity support for Wiltshire was kicked-off by Patrons Guy and Jacqui Ritchie who held a fundraising event and Hollywood actor Robert Downey Jr who offered a VIP prize via online auction company Omaze. Between them they raised nearly £2 million.
Patron Jasper Conran OBE funds two Wiltshire nurses and comedian Michael McIntyre hosted a number of sell-out shows that paid for the activity lounge in the new hospice.
Lead contractor Wates Construction not only offered a full management package at a discounted price, it also used its supply chain to cut the cost of materials and labour saving Julia’s House £330,000 on the cost of the build.
Wates also chose Julia’s House as its charity during its annual Community Week, raising £10,000. This was combined with further funding from the Wates charitable foundation, Wates Giving, and used to fund the hospice’s central hoist track system.
Wates’ employee Rebecca Thursby played a key role in the build as project surveyor and it has been a project close to her heart, as her three-year-old daughter, Sophia, receives care from the Julia’s House Wiltshire community nursing team.
Rebecca said: “The official opening of Julia’s House is a very proud day for everyone at Wates, but it has extra significance for me personally. The nursing team has provided exceptional levels of care to my daughter over recent years and I know firsthand how important the hospice will be to families across the region.
“Wates is a family business and we are committed to making a positive impact on the communities in which we work. This is the largest not-for-profit scheme the company has worked on in its 120 year history and it has been a privilege to help bring this inspiring project to life.”
Significant donations towards the building work were made by The Underwood Trust, The Wolfson Foundation and Richmond Group. A generous grant from the Morrisons Foundation funded the multisensory garden and a substantial amount of furniture and equipment for the hospice interior and Imagine Cruising paid for the spacious, high-tech sensory room.
Some of the funding for extra nurses and carers came from large donations by The Adrian Swire Charitable Trust and The Blagrave Trust and from a massive community effort by the staff and readers of the Wiltshire Gazette & Herald newspaper.
Julia’s House has been supporting Wiltshire families for the past three years, offering home and community-based respite care to parents with life-limited children. The new centrally-based hospice will offer families access to state-of-the-art facilities and more social opportunities.
Julia’s House Devizes will now undergo inspection to gain Care Quality Commission approval before welcoming the first families this summer.