Children’s Hospice Reopens
Helen & Douglas House officially opened the new look Helen House children’s hospice in Oxford after a major refurbishment, on Monday 15 September, for families living in Oxfordshire and the Home Counties.
Tom Hollander, actor, joined children, families, staff, volunteers and supporters to celebrate the occasion, and two children, Ella Dicks, aged 5 from Corsham, Wiltshire and Sam Daly, aged 13 from Eton cut the ribbon at 18.00 to officially reopen the hospice house.
Ella has a complex genetic medical condition and has been visiting Helen House for one year and Sam, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, has been visiting for 18 months.
The charity received £436,000 from NHS England to carry out some of the work that was needed, but called on people in the community to help raise further funds to carry out vital work at the same time. The refurbishment cost £1.5 million.
Although from the outside the house has changed very little, inside is very different; modern, bright and very comfortable. A more welcoming and spacious reception area has been created and a huge play and holistic therapy area. The kitchen and family dining room has been relocated and refurbished. There is also vastly improved space and ‘flow’ between bedrooms, bathrooms and family areas and plumbed in oxygen in all children’s rooms.
Tom Hollander said: “Helen & Douglas House is a cross between a high end care home, state-of-the- art hospital and pleasure palace. The wonderful thing about the refurbishment is that they have brought it up-to-date and made improvements but retained its spirit. It continues to bring comfort, consolation, laughter and community.”
Lisa Neal lives in Winnersh with her husband Mark and daughters Hayley and Jasmine who have a rare condition called Leigh’s disease. The family visits Helen House for respite care. Lisa said at the reopening event, “The new Helen House is so light, bright and colourful. I love the way they have opened up the area outside the bedrooms; it is so wonderful and spacious now with lots of space for Hayley’s wheelchair to move about. The new open plan art area is also lovely. Hayley really likes it too and said ‘wow’ when she saw it”.
Sam Daly’s Mum from Windsor, Sara, said: “It is absolutely amazing and has the wow factor. It’s light and bright and the refurbishment has moved the whole place into the 23rd century. Everything is more accessible and friendly and it has such a family feel to it, really homely. Sam is a huge fan of the interactive ‘magic carpet’ and loves the continuous flow between the play area and the garden. He can’t wait until he comes to stay in December”.