A CHARITY champion says she has taken the difficult decision not to give £50,000 to a cause she believed would be a children’s hospice.
Julie Reay, from Barnes, raised the funds over a number of years through The Peter David Lane Trust Fund, named after her teenage son who died in a tragic rope swing accident in 2002.
The money was intended for the Grace House Hospice, but because Grace House will no longer be a dedicated children’s hospice, a cause particularly close to her heart, she says she feels she has to give the money to other charities.
Since 2002, Wearsiders have dug deep to raise funds for what would have been the city’s only children’s hospice.
Though the facility has been built in Faber Road, Southwick, it was decided last year that it would no longer be a hospice. When it does open its doors it will be a respite and short-break facility after signing a deal with Sunderland Care and Support, which will provide staff to help care for youngsters.
Julie says although she welcomes the respite facility, this wasn’t what she was fundraising for.
“The decision to retract this donation has not been an easy one,” said Julie, who over the years has raised more than £150,000 for various good causes in the city. “I was left shocked and saddened that the purpose of this charity has been changed, so the monies raised will now not be used for the purpose it was intended for.”
Julie had wanted the money to be used to equip a computer suite and for a quiet room.
“Peter died in November 2002 and that Christmas I’d ordered him a computer, which would have been his first,” she explained. “He never got that computer but that’s why I particularly wanted the money to pay for that.
“I have gone through the death of a child, which is why I felt so strongly about a quiet room, but the new facility doesn’t need a quiet room.”
David Cook, chair of trustees at Grace House, said: “Donating to a charity is a very personal decision and we are grateful to all the people of Sunderland that continue to support our ambitious plans to provide a centre of excellence for some of the most vulnerable children and families in the region.”
Instead, Julie has chosen to donate £26,541 to Kian’s Gift, set up by the family of Castletown youngster Kian Armstrong to provide a holiday home caravan in Haggerston Castle, Northumberland, for poorly children.
The remaining funds will be split between a number of Sunderland charities.
Julie said: “So many special children and families have already had a wonderful stay at Kian’s Gift and with securing the funds many more will be able to stay in the future and use this amazing facility.
“I visited the caravan with Kian and his family and read the memory book of families who have used the facility and it just blew me away.”
Kian’s mum Jemma said: “I thank her from the bottom of my heart. Julie is an amazing woman. Kian thinks the world of her and she has helped our family in so many ways.
“I told Julie about the struggles with the caravan, but I had no idea she would do this. She is so very special.”