A TV news presenter has been named as patron of the Sunderland children’s charity which her late mum helped to lay the foundations for.
Sky News’ Jayne Secker, daughter of the late broadcaster Kathy Secker, will be a patron for Grace House children’s respite centre.
Jayne was involved at the outset in 2000 when Kathy first came up with idea of starting the charity and she has watched it grow from an idea at the family kitchen table to the busy place it is today.
Kathy was inspired after meeting families like the Jones’, whose daughter Grace the charity became named after.
Grace, who had been born with a mystery illness that left her disabled and unable to speak, sadly passed away in 2017 aged 18.
Jayne said: “Mum wanted to build a place to help families of children who were very ill; those with disabilities, had life limiting illnesses or were dying.
“She had supported a number of charities over the years and saw the affect very poorly children could have on families.
“Because of their complex medical needs it was not easy to hand over care to someone else. Most parents and siblings had never had a day off.
“Mum thought why not build a place the children could come and have fun and be happy and safe, while the rest of the family could get some much needed respite.
“Even 24 hours off could make a massive difference.”
Despite having no experience running a charity she managed, Kathy managed to raise £5.5million and get Grace House built before retiring.
Sadly, she died in 2015 before the centre opened to users.
In a recent visit to the North East, Jayne said: “I last visited Grace Hose in May 2016 and it was just finding its feet, I can’t believe how busy it now is.
“It’s brilliant to see so many children using all the facilities.
“I can remember mum spending hours deciding what cheerful colours the bedrooms would be and what could go into the sensory room.
“Seeing these spaces really being used is so satisfying.”
David Cook, chairman of Grace House, said: “It’s wonderful to have Jayne as part of our team.
“The Secker name is integral Grace House, so we are very pleased to welcome her.”
Jayne added: “Mum would be so pleased to see that all her hard work is now making a difference to so many families in Sunderland.
“It’s great that the centre is being used for short breaks and that the children are loving it.
“I am so proud to be able to continue the family involvement in Grace House and look forward to doing all I can to help.”
Grace House Short Breaks is now a busy and thriving service; assisting many families in Sunderland and across the North East.
Children and young people aged five to 17 and 11 months, living with a complex disability and/ or autism are given the opportunity to enjoy first class facilities; including a sensory room, accessible outdoor and indoor play areas.
Fun learning opportunities including cookery, gardening and craft classes are also provided.
In the most recent Ofsted inspection, Sunderland Care and Support, which works closely with Grace House, was rated as good in the delivery of care to the children and young people.