08:30AM, Friday 05 June 2015
Alexander Devine Children's Hospice Service is hoping to begin work on Berkshire's first children's hospice this year. A six-acre site has been donated and planning permission granted ready for the build. The team has raised £3.8m of the £5m needed and has now launched the final push to get them to the target.
A mum who has ‘moved mountains’ to build a legacy for her son has called for a final push to transform a dream into reality.
Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice Service was founded in 2007 after Fiona and John Devine lost their son Alexander, aged eight, after a four-and-a-half-year battle with a brain tumour.
The charity set out a vision to create Berkshire’s first children’s hospice, providing a permanent home for its services to support children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions, and their families, throughout Berkshire.
The team has raised £3.8million of the £5m required to launch the specialist site at Snowball Hill in Woodlands Park.
With planning permission granted, blueprints drawn up and the donation of a six-acre site, all that is left is the final fundraising drive to reach the target.
In January 2014, the Advertiser and Express newspapers launched the ‘Together We Can Build It’ campaign with the aim of achieving the £5m needed within two years.
The Louis Baylis (Maidenhead Advertiser) Charitable Trust has announced it is making a £100,000 donation to the cause, putting the charity within touching distance of its goal.
“We were absolutely thrilled and delighted,” said Fiona.
“We have such a long-term relationship with the Louis Baylis Trust and the newspaper.
“The support of the paper has been incredible.
“We would not have achieved what we have in such a short space of time without it.”
With more than £600,000 in promises still to roll in, it’s an exciting time for a team, which moved to new office space in White Waltham in September.
The nearby plot where the hospice will be built took four years to find but Fiona said it has been well worth the wait.
“You have to keep the faith and you have to keep going,” said the Windsor resident.
“I’m absolutely sure things happen for a reason. When it came it was absolutely perfect.
“It’s the ideal location. We are ready to go.
“I’m so proud of Alexander, this is his legacy. It's very little to do with John and I; this is what Alexander represented.
“This is the cusp of a new chapter with the build.
“One of the next chapters to come is about keeping that going and making it work for our children and their families.
“It’s been such a journey.
“When you start out with a dream or a vision, I think being a little bit naive is a positive.
“You have no idea the hurdles that you have to jump and the problems you have to face.
“I really do believe if you have a vision that you really believe in, you can move mountains.
“We always thought this was the right thing to do.
“I think it’s a lifetime commitment on my behalf. I’m so lucky to do this on a day-to day-basis.
"The circumstances are tragic as to why we are here but positives will come.
"This is the next best thing I can do for him."
The team is hoping to begin the build before the end of the year and it is expected to take 15-18 months to go from breaking ground to opening day.
Fiona is due to return to Alexander’s old schools, St Edward’s First and Middle schools in Windsor, for their annual blue and yellow day in aid of the charity.
The annual Heaven Sent Ball, held on Saturday, May 9 at the Harte & Garter Hotel, raised £27,000, with childhood friends of Alexander acting as table hosts on the night.
Fiona said it is just one of the things which highlights the memory her son has left behind, with his friends, now 17 and 18, continuing to support the cause.
Michael Parkinson will host a cabaret night and the first ever Alexander Devine Colour Dash will be held as part of the final push towards the realisation of a dream.
The charity needs your help. Any donations or organised fundraisers make the difference.
Visit www.alexanderdevine.org or contact the team on 0845 055 8276 for more information on how to get involved.
Together We Can Build It.
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