Morpeth Lions Club
AT a recent meeting, members received a talk from Laura Gillespie, a fund-raiser from Grace House Children’s Hospice. This is a chosen charity of Geoff Bushell, this year’s President.
She gave a detailed and fascinating presentation about the unit, which is due to open this summer. It will cover an area that stretches from Berwick to Teesside.
This is the first children’s hospice in the North East and is entirely funded by the community, with no support to date from the NHS or Government, although funding should become available from the public purse once the hospice opens.
An appeal to date has raised £6 million over several years and has enabled a modern purpose-built unit to be constructed – it has been designed to avoid an institutional ‘feel’.
The unit will have six en suite bedrooms for children and four for families, but she emphasised that this is a drop in the ocean as research by Leeds University has indicated that there are some 2,000 children in the North East with end of life conditions.
The Lions heard that it costs £3,000 to purchase a specialist bed for the hospice and the club decided to prioritise fund-raising for this item at this year’s events.
As a start to the fund-raising, it welcomed almost 80 guests to its second Charity Casino Night at Riverside Lodge.
On the night, Morpeth Lions raised more than £1,060 for Grace House. As well as getting ‘funny money’ to gamble with, the £15 entry charge included a free draw, supper and cabaret featuring local singer Along Came Lola. The evening finished with a blind auction.
Mr Bushell said: “It was decided that the project was an ideal recipient for funds raised this year. Some of us had visited Grace House and were very impressed with the facilities for the children and their families.
“We are indebted to Riverside Lodge for agreeing to host the event and to Sunderland Lions Club members, who provided their expertise and casino equipment. Sunderland Lions has also agreed to donate its ‘fee’ to Grace House.
“In addition, our thanks go to the many local businesses that provided raffle and blind auction prizes, in particular Alex Malone of TSB who helped on the evening. She approached her bank for some matched funding and it has generously donated £500, taking the total going to Grace House to £1,561.
“We are now looking at more events to raise the £1,439 to enable us to purchase the specialist bed.”