Now the work really begins

After 12 years of fundraising, building work on the Forget-me Not children’s hospice at Fell Greave Road near Brighouse is complete but the effort goes on to equip and run the hospice which will help more than 400 children and families in Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield once it is fully open.

It’s been a long haul but according to the hospice’s chief executive Peter Branson it is only now that the work really begins.

“The hospice building is now completed but this is the start of our work, not the end and there is still a long way to go. Community support is more vital than ever and we must now raise more than £2.5 million a year to ensure that we can help the children who come to us.”

The Mayor of Kirklees, Coun Eric Firth, has chosen to support the hospice during his year in office and hopes to raise £100,000 for the charity.

Though the Hospice at Home service is now helping nearly 30 families across the area, it will be early in 2012 before the first children are cared for in the hospice itself.

The finishing touches are still being made to the interior of the building, with family rooms, rest rooms and accommodation all taking shape. There will be a sensory room for young children and an ‘adult-free’ zone for teenagers.

Michelle Surrell, head of fundraising, said: “The hospice will cater for children with a wide range of life-limiting conditions, from babies to teenagers.

“Many of them will have already spent a lot of time in hospital so the aim is to make the hospice as warm and welcoming as possible.”

Despite a hectic training schedule, competitions and foreign travel in the run-up to the London Paralympics next year, world champion athlete Hannah Cockroft has agreed to be the new ambassador for the hospice. On a recent visit Hannah said: “It’s a wonderful place and I am pleased to be its ambassador.

“I hope to be able to tell as many people as possible about it. I’ve got a busy few months ahead. I’m off to Australia in the new year and I just can’t wait for the Paralympics next summer when all my family will be able to come to London and see me compete.”

Hannah has been described as the next Tanni Grey Thompson – a comparison she welcomes.

The 19-year-old wheelchair sprinter from Halifax loves having the bar set as high as possible - and being compared to Britain’s most successful wheelchair athlete is a challenge she relishes.

Hannah, who has cerebral palsy, is a wheelchair racer on the GB Paralympic Athletics team and will be competing over the 100m and 200m distances, for which she holds the T34 world records.

She said: “I’ve been coached by Tanni and her husband and she has been a real inspiration to me.”

Hospice chief executive Peter Branson said: “Hannah is a brilliant role model and we believe she is a demonstration of what young people can achieve. Our role is to support children and young people with many different conditions and having Hannah on board will provide great encouragement to them.

l A fashion show in support of the hospice is being held at the Holiday Inn, Brighouse, on November 27.