GRACE House will finally open in the new year and start providing care for Wearside children with terminal illnesses after a deal was struck to provide nursing staff.
After more than a decade of fund-raising for the Southwick facility, the charity has now signed a landmark agreement with Sunderland Care and Support.
The firm works with 6,000 people each week and offers supported living schemes, day services and short breaks for people with serious illnesses and their carers.
The deal means that Grace House will open its door in early 2015.
Bosses including patron Kathy Secker, who has been at the forefront of campaigning and fund-raising for Grace House, today spoke of their joy.
David Cook, chairman of Grace House, said: “We’ve not got long to wait now before we will be able to open our doors to local children and their families.
“At Grace House, they will be able to enjoy excellent services in a fantastic new building paid for by the generosity of local people and charitable trusts and foundations.
“We have much work to do to prepare for the opening but we are confident that the years of generosity from the local public and the great efforts of founder Kathy Secker and her team will be rewarded soon.”
The appeal was first launched by the Echo and Kathy, a BBC Radio Newcastle presenter, in 2002. From bake sales to fun runs, sponsored swims to ice bucket challenges, thousands of Wearsiders have helped to raise money for Grace House during the past 12 years.
Kathy said: “Sunderland and the region can be proud of Grace House.
“It will help transform the lives of children suffering from life-limiting conditions and the lives of their families.
“It has been a long journey and we’ve had such generous support from so many people, companies and organisations.
“I know for all of us at Grace House, it will be a very emotional day when our doors are properly opened for the first time.”
Chief operating officer for Sunderland Care and Support, Philip Foster, said: “Our emphasis is on enabling even the most disabled or disadvantaged people of all ages to participate as active citizens in their community.
“It is great to be there at the start of this new service, working in partnership with Grace House.
“We are determined to give the people of Sunderland and surrounding areas the care they deserve.”
Echo editor John Szymanski said: “It’s is such great news that a date has finally been set for Grace House to open its doors.
“The Echo launched our appeal almost 12 years ago to the day for such a facility on Wearside and I am very proud of our readers’ efforts to make it happen.”