Sunderland children’s hospice welcomes first visitors

The doors to Grace House were opened to invited guests, keen to take a look around the brand new facility on faber Road in Southwick. Sunderland Echo editor John Symanski met up with the Mayoress and Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Olive Punshion and Coun Eileen Leask, as well as the Deputy Mayorees and Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Julianna and Coun Bob Heron.

The doors to Grace House were opened to invited guests, keen to take a look around the brand new facility on faber Road in Southwick. Sunderland Echo editor John Symanski met up with the Mayoress and Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Olive Punshion and Coun Eileen Leask, as well as the Deputy Mayorees and Mayor of Sunderland, Coun Julianna and Coun Bob Heron.

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GRACE House Hospice has opened its doors to the Wearside public who helped bring it to life.

Fund-raising for the Southwick facility began with the launch of its appeal in 2002.

Since then, thousands of people in the city and beyond have dug deep to donate cash for the worthy cause.

For Karen Maclennan, senior fund-raiser at Grace House, it is the culmination of 10 years of hard work to get the Faber Road site open.

“Today there is an overwhelming feeling of happiness here because people know the joy that it is going to give to families when they visit,” said Karen.

“It’s wonderful to be able to invite people in and show them what we hope is an excellent service for children in the city and the region.”

Deputy Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Bob Heron labelled the hospice “fantastic”.

“It’s a beautiful setting, and it will certainly be well received by all of the families who are going to be using it,” said Coun Heron.

“People in Sunderland have helped for 10 years to get this up and running. Adults and kids have been bringing in the pennies, and it has been one long haul.”

Workers from Sainsbury’s new North Sunderland store served up refreshments to those taking a tour, who included former Monkwearmouth School pupil and best-selling author Terry Deary.

Echo editor John Szymanski, who joined other dignitaries on a tour of the site, said: “It’s a pleasure to be here and see this fantastic building, which stands before us thanks to the amazing generosity of people in Sunderland and the rest of the North East.

“The hospice will soon be caring for poorly youngsters with terminal illnesses from all over the region, and I’m sure their families will be comforted by the fact that they are being treated at such a welcoming facility.

“Grace House is something the people of Sunderland can be proud of for years to come, thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers who have gone out of their way to provide help over the past decade.

“Fund-raising for Grace House must continue, though, so please donate to the hospice when you can.”

The hospice is now in the process of being equipped, and clinical staff will soon be appointed.

Many people who helped to generate money to get the hospice built were among the first to get a look around the new site.

Paul Kane, buyer and health and safety manager at Ferryboat Lane-based drinks dispensing firm Innserve, is involved with junior football team Harton Hotshots.

In 2010, a number of players and their parents from the club climbed Ben Nevis, raising almost £1,000 for Grace House.

Paul said: “It’s quite emotional looking around the building in preparation for the children who will be coming here.

“You can see that the enthusiasm of the staff such as Karen is just great. You can tell how much it means to them to be here today.”

Work is now under way to equip each room at the hospice. Clinical and admin staff are set to be appointed next month.

Those wishing to have a tour of Grace House should call the hospice on 525 2885.

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