Text £1 to help children’s hospice

Debra and Grace Jones
Debra and Grace Jones
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IT’S a simple text that could make a big difference to the lives of seriously-ill children.

Today, the Echo urges everyone across Wearside to text £1 for the Grace House Children’s Hospice.

Feature on the progress of Grace House,  Sunderland. Kathy Secker in one of the gardens.

Feature on the progress of Grace House, Sunderland. Kathy Secker in one of the gardens.

Our Hospice of Hope campaign aims to raise £20,000 for a play park at the new Southwick-based facility. The park will help bring some joy to the lives of youngsters and their brothers and sisters.

Broadcaster Kathy Secker, who founded Grace House, said hundreds of families in the North East could benefit from the hospice’s services.

She said: “I hope you will support this appeal.”

To make a donation, text PARK12 followed by the amount you wish to donate, eg PARK12 £1 to 70070. Any amount between £1 and £10 can be donated. Scroll down for details of how to donate in other ways.

The hospice is named after 13-year-old Grace Jones, from High Barnes, who is disabled due to an illness which doctors have never been able to diagnose.

Her mum Debra, 39, today spoke of her gratitude to generous Wearsiders for their help over the years and backed the Echo’s appeal.

She said: “I want to thank all of Wearside – you’ve done a fantastic job to get us where we are today.”

She added: “It’s very important we keep it up. We need people’s ongoing support to be able to equip the hospice and get it running.

“It’s vital that we have funds coming in.”

Debra, who is married to Darren, 41, a site supervisor for a construction company, says the hospice would be fantastic for families across the North East.

“To some families it really does mean ‘life’,” she said.

“It’s not just a place where children can go to stay and have a break and families have a break, it’s a huge support network.

“Children like Grace are being born all the time and families are going through all the stages I went through.

“As a child grows there are more problems beginning to unfold, such as operations and illness.

“With Grace House being here for families, you don’t have to feel isolated, because they’ve got this huge support network.

“It’s something that we haven’t got and something that’s going to be in Sunderland. It really does mean ‘life’.”

“Wearsiders made that help possible to families like mine.”

The Grace House Appeal was launched by broadcaster Kathy Secker after it was revealed the North East had the fewest children’s hospice beds in the country, to offer care for youngsters not expected to reach adulthood.

The Echo’s Children of Courage Appeal, launched in 2003, raised more than £90,000 towards the building and equipping of two rooms at the hospice.

Now, as the building of Grace House presses ahead, we’re asking Echo readers to back our Hospice of Hope Appeal, to give much-needed help.

Echo editor Rob Lawson said: “Thousands of readers have given generously in the years since we started the appeal and everyone at Grace House is hugely grateful.

“The dream is almost a reality but we still need thousands of pounds to get this play park in place as building work nears completion.

“Sick and poorly youngsters from Wearside and across the North East will benefit from this wonderful facility and we cannot wait for it to be operational.

“We would be delighted if our readers can find it in their hearts to donate again.

“It will make a massive difference to so many lives.”

•THERE are a number of ways readers can donate to the appeal. Cheques or postal orders should be made payable to Northeast Press Ltd – Sunderland Echo Charity Account.

Written on the reverse should be “Grace House Hospice of Hope Appeal”.

You can also donate via text. Send an SMS with PARK12 in to 70070 followed by the amount in pounds that you would like to donate. Any amount from £1 to £10 can be donated. All messages are free on all networks.

We also want to hear about what ways you are fund-raising cash for the appeal, whatever they may be. Ring David Allison on 501 7137 or e-mail: david.allison@northeast-press.co.uk.

Stories or cheques can be sent to David Allison, Hospice of Hope Appeal, Sunderland Echo, Echo House, Pennywell Industrial Estate, SR4 9ER.