Bereavement room cash ‘gone forever’

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A FAMILY who raised cash for a bereavement room at the DGH in honour of their late daughter have accepted they will never get the money back to spend on an alternative memorial.

Monica Corrina-Kavakli and Aydin Kavakli started raising money for the new family room in 2003 after the tragic death of their young daughter Ella in 2002 and, having collected around £7,000, handed over a cheque to hospital bosses.

However, last year the couple asked for the cash back claiming the NHS trust in charge of the DGH had dragged its heels over the new family room.

They were told they would be given the money back, and were planning to use it on an alternative memorial, but the trust realised its hands were tied by red tape and had to back-track on the gesture.

The delay in starting work on the bereavement room was because the estimated overall bill was around £53,000 but, despite the fact the trust confirmed in the Herald late last year that it had indeed finished the new facility, Ella’s family are still angry they were not given the cash back to fund a memory book project which they had decided as an alternative.

Speaking this week they said, “This week we were informed the trust and its legal team considered the case closed and remained adamant they would not return Ella’s money to us and allow us to publish and distribute the memory book we had designed as an alternative way of supporting other bereaved parents, as well as dedicating it to our daughter Ella.

“As we approach the anniversary of what would have been Ella’s 10th birthday this July, we feel it is time to accept once and for all that the money we all raised in her memory eight years ago, was done in vain.”

The trust reiterated the fact a bereavement room HAD been built, part funded by the cash raised in Ella’s memory.

A spokesman for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said, “We understand how distressing this has all been for Mrs Corrina-Kavakli and her family especially at this time.

“The charitable trust fund is completely separate from the trust’s day-to-day financial accounts and governed by the law relating to charities.

“We have sought advice from the Charities Commission and other experts to see how this donation can legally be returned.

“Unfortunately, as we have explained to the family, charity law does not allow us to do this.

“We can confirm a bereavement room was opened last year, which is in line with the wishes of Mrs Corrina-Kavakli’s donation.

“We have seen that this is a place which brings comfort to those who are similarly bereaved.”

Mrs Corrina-Kavakli stuck to her guns. “If there is a room,” she said, “then we sincerely hope that it is used for the purpose it was created and that if a family is as unfortunate enough to suffer as we did, then we hope they gain some good from it all.

“However, we would like to clarify once and for all that we do not consider this room to have any connection to us, Ella’s Memory or the funds raised in her name. In our eyes, as we have already said, that money has gone.”