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On Tuesday 10 October the Cooden Beach Hotel near Bexhill hosted a special lunch for Chestnut Tree House, helping the charity to raise awareness of the care they offer in East Sussex.
Hosted by Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Barry Hinves, the lunch was an opportunity for local dignitaries, businesses and supporters to hear from Chestnut Tree’s CEO Hugh Lowson and Director of Children’s Services Linda Perry. They spoke about the 14 year history of the hospice and its growth from 2 beds and 30 children to 10 beds and 300 children.
Linda highlighted the care offered in children’s own homes: “We have a lovely hospice building over near Arundel where children and families can take short breaks and parents can enjoy being parents rather than carers for a while. But, for me, the care that happens in families’ own homes is just as important. This is where our Chestnut Tree House Nurses and Care Support Workers build strong relationships with families, where they can understand and support the whole family’s needs, and where they can help families with the day-to-day realities of caring for a child with a life-shortening condition.”
The charity cared for 72 children in East Sussex last year, 8 of whom sadly died. Their nurses made over 500 home visits to children in the county, and provided additional support in the form of activities for the under 5s, the over 12s, siblings and families, as well as an event specifically for grandparents. “We really look after the whole family,” says Linda. “Siblings are often mini-carers and miss out on opportunities that their peers may take for granted, so it is important that we can provide safe spaces for them to just be children. Similarly, the experience of grandparents of children with life-shortening conditions is often very different to that of their peers, so being able to bring them together to share those experiences is invaluable.”
Whilst the charity has made huge strides, through its Hands Up campaign, in raising awareness of their care in East Sussex they know that there are more children here who need their care. In order to reach those children the charity needs to raise awareness and funds. It costs well over £3.5 million every year to offer all of Chestnut Tree House’s care services, and as they reach more children this figure will increase. The charity receives less than 7% of their funding from central government so they rely heavily on the generosity of the local community, who support them in a variety of ways; through volunteering, taking part in the hospice’s lottery, donating to their charity shops, taking part in their events or fundraising.
Commenting on the event, CEO Hugh Lowson said: “It was fantastic to meet so many people and talk to them about a cause we are passionate about. We would like to thank Barry and Jackie Hinves for hosting the lunch, and thank everyone who attended. We would like to say a special thanks to James and Lesley Kimber at the Cooden Beach hotel for their kind and generous support of the event. We look forward to working with them again as we begin to plan for a gala celebration at the hotel for Chestnut Tree’s 15th Birthday in October 2018.”
You can find out more about the care Chestnut Tree House offers in East Sussex, how to make a referral and how to get involved in supporting the charity by clicking here