A lunch to mark Chestnut Tree’s 15th anniversary has been held at The Hydro Hotel.
Chestnut Tree 15th Birthday Patrons Lester Magoogan and Jacquie Hinves were among the guests invited.
Guests enjoyed a talk from the charity’s CEO Hugh Lowson and community nurse Kirstie Gaston.
They spoke about the 15-year history of the hospice and its growth from two beds and 30 children to ten beds and 300 children.
Caroline Ansell, former Eastbourne MP, organised the event and spoke about how her own near brush with loss had given her a special commitment to the work of Chestnut Tree.
She said, “It is unimaginable to think that, a little more than 15 years ago, families in Sussex facing the loss of their child had to walk that journey alone.”
Community nurse Kirstie then spoke about the care that Chestnut Tree offers.
She said, “People often assume that hospice care is entirely about end of life care, but a children’s hospice offers so much more. We care for children with life-shortening conditions, children who aren’t expected to reach adulthood, and we offer care and support from diagnosis through to bereavement and beyond.
“For some children this will be a short period of time, and for others an extended amount of time. Our role is to improve the quality of that time, however long it is.”
The charity currently cares for around 60 children in East Sussex. Last year its community nursing team made more than 500 home visits to children in the county, and provided additional support in the form of activities for all ages, siblings and families. The charity also has an event specifically for grandparents.
Kirstie said, “We really look after the whole family.
“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. Grandparents can find it especially tough when a grandchild has a life-shortening condition as they are worried about the wellbeing of their own child as well as their grandchild, so being able to bring them together to share those experiences is invaluable.”
Support Chestnut at www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk