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Stars unveil Scott House and welcome families of sick children

Press Release   •   Oct 20, 2014 08:56 BST

Ant & Dec and Alan Shearer have unveiled Scott House, a new ‘Home from Home’ for families with children receiving lifesaving treatment at the Freeman Hospital’s Children’s Heart Unit, in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The £1.9m project, which is the result of fundraising by The Sick Children’s Trust and Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF), will benefit families with some of the UK’s most seriously ill children.

The Freeman Hospital’s Children’s Heart Unit is one of only two Transplant Centres in the UK and offers pioneering and innovative treatment to children requiring heart surgery. Families travel from across the North East, Cumbria and beyond to access its specialist, lifesaving services. They often have to travel long distances from home, so the new accommodation will enable families to stay, free of charge just minutes from their child’s bedside.

Scott House provides both emotional and practical support for families and contains 18 en-suite bedrooms and a transplant flat to help patients prepare to go home, as well as communal living areas including kitchen and dining rooms, lounges, playrooms and laundry facilities. Each private family bedroom has a direct telephone line to the ward so that parents can be contacted day or night should their child’s situation change. A dedicated Sick Children’s Trust House Manager and House Assistants are on hand to ensure families are supported for the duration of their time in the house.

The name Scott House was chosen to recognise the achievements of Anne Scott, whose tireless fundraising on behalf of her two daughters led to the founding of the CHUF charity to support the children’s heart unit. CHUF was originally called the Lesley Anne Scott Memorial Fund after Anne’s daughter Lesley Anne who sadly passed away in 1979. Lesley Anne was born with a congenital heart defect, as was her sister Lisa who also sadly died from the same heart-related condition. Both charities are delighted to recognise the vision and dedication of Anne Scott and her family in the name for the new house.

Sir Leonard Fenwick, Chief Executive, The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “This best in class facility has a pivotal role to play in accommodating the needs of parents and children, many of whom have come to the North East under the most challenging and stressful of circumstances. The contribution this facility shall provide in respect of their wellbeing is truly considerable.”

CHUF charity patrons Ant & Dec said: “We could not be prouder of the North East today and want to thank everyone who has helped or donated in any way from the bottom of our hearts. As patrons of CHUF, we are honoured to officially open Scott House to the families of the heart patients at Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, who continue to save lives on a daily basis whilst offering world class care.”

Claudette Watson, Chief Executive at The Sick Children’s Trust said: “When a child is seriously ill and has to be rushed to a specialist hospital many miles away from home, a decent dinner, hot shower and a comfortable bed are the last things on parents’ minds. But it is just these simple home comforts which help a family cope. Scott House provides a ‘Home from Home’ where families can rest and recuperate after a difficult day on the wards. Its facilities support the whole family for as long as they need us, with space for siblings to stay and family life to continue. I am simply delighted that we will be able to support so many families with children receiving lifesaving treatment on the Children’s Heart Unit in such a fantastic environment.” 

Alan Shearer, CHUF patron, said: “Some of the children are on the children's heart ward and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit for a very long time, especially if they are waiting for a transplant or recovering from complex surgery. Being separated from their parents - and parents being separated from their children - is tremendously stressful and it has never been more important for us to support them on their difficult journey. The ‘Home from Home’ family accommodation is of an incredible standard, with every detail considered. I am honoured to be a part of their journey.”

Dr Richard Kirk, Consultant Paediatric Cardiologist & Transplant Physician at Freeman Hospital said: "Giving the families of the heart babies, children and teenagers a place where they can call home, while their loved-ones undergo treatment at the Heart Unit at Freeman Hospital has been in our sights for a long time. Seeing it come to fruition and to be so comfortable, well designed and homely is tremendously exciting. With a direct line straight to the ward, this will allow the families to try and maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible, while they endure one of the most difficult and stressful times of their lives. We have families on the unit from across the UK and Ireland as well as the North East and we urge you to consider carrying a donor card.” 

North East businessman Graham Wylie, whose family were supported by the Children’s Heart Unit, said: “Without this accommodation, families could be separated from each other or have to cope with expensive travel and hotel costs while under extreme duress. Scott House gives families free, comfortable accommodation that will help relieve some of their financial, practical and emotional strains and allow them to concentrate on their sick child. I am very grateful to everyone who has helped raise funds so far, thank you.”

The building has been designed by award-winning Newcastle architects, Jane Darbyshire & David Kendall (JDDK) Ltd and built by Sunderland-based Brims Construction.

Jason Wood, director at Brims Construction, said: “This is a fantastic project which will make a major difference to so many families and we are delighted to have played a part in successfully bringing it forward.”

The Sick Children’s Trust was founded in 1982 by two paediatric specialists Dr Jon Pritchard and Professor James Malpas. They believed that having parents on hand during hospital treatment benefited a child's recovery.

Today we have ten ‘Homes from Home’ at major hospitals around the country where families can stay free of charge, for as long as they need whilst their child is undergoing treatment. 

Every year we help around 3,500 families, but there is a growing demand for our ‘Homes from Home’ as children must increasingly travel long distances to get the specialist treatment they need. 

We are working to a future where every family with a seriously ill child in hospital will be able to stay together, just minutes from their child’s bed during their treatment.

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