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Rotarians in Bideford and Germany join forces to boost children’s hospice

Rotary Club of Bideford and Rotary Club of Uelzen helped raise £39,170 for Children’s Hospice South West. Picture: Graham Hobbs

An international fundraising collaboration by Rotarians in Bideford and Germany has raised nearly £40,000 for Children’s Hospice South West.

Money raised at a barn dance in Yarnscombe nearly two years ago was the catalyst for the major project by the Rotary Club of Bideford and the Rotary Club of Uelzen.

The event at the farm of John Edwards in July 2017 raised £7,800 for the Little Bridge House hospice in Fremington but has since been boosted to £39,170 thanks to support from the twin club in Germany and a Rotary Foundation Global Grant. It is first successful global grant application in the Bideford club’s 94-year history.

Jacquie Willoughby, last year’s club president, said John, a former president himself, was the inspiration for the project.

John is a passionate supporter of Little Bridge House and wanted to raise funds to help them before he retired from Rotary.

What a swan song it turned out to be! When we spoke to Tracy Freame, head of care and Emma Perry, head of fundraising at Little Bridge House to find out what was needed, they were more than ready to give us ideas.”

“The nurse call system there had been in use since the hospice first opened in 1995 and no longer fit for purpose. There was no in-room CCTV and it needed ripping out and replacing with modern, hi-tech equipment. There was also a need for a bespoke bed that could cater for children and young people of all sizes with complex needs.

“I began talking to the President of the Rotary Club of Uelzen in March 2017. It was a huge request when we asked them if they would donate funds collected in Germany for CHSW in order that we could apply for a Rotary Foundation Global Grant. We needed an international partner to multiply the funds raised locally by five but first we needed to explain what the children’s hospice is and what it does for the Devon families of children with life- limiting conditions as they have no equivalent in Germany.John Edwards and Jacquie Willoughby at the Rotary Club of Bideford barn dance that sparked a major funding project for Children’s Hospice South West

“Some of our German friends visited the hospice in April 2018 to report back to their club. With their backing and a financial contribution of nearly 6,000 from their members we were ready to start.”

Club Foundation chairman Jill Eddie worked with colleagues from Germany and Rotary International in Chicago to submit the grant application, which included financial plans, budgets, monitoring and evaluation plans, as well as full descriptions of the work to be undertaken.

“Everyone was delighted when the OK for the grant came back in time for the scheduled Little Bridge maintenance at the beginning of the year, meaning the installation could go right ahead,” added Jacquie.

The new wireless system features a modern intercom, audio listening and CCTV linking the eight bedrooms with the nurse station and enabling close monitoring of the more vulnerable children who use the hospice, if required.

The state-of-the-art equipment can film in infra-red at night and can be turned on or off by parents using a key switch in the bedroom.

Mobile pendants can also be worn by staff so they can access the extensive grounds at Little Bridge House, knowing their colleagues will be able to assist them, if required in an emergency. 

Tracy Freame, head of care at Little Bridge House, said: “We can’t thank Bideford Rotary enough for all their help and support.

They have given us the opportunity to completely upgrade our original nurse call system, bringing it into the 21st century.

"It has CCTV cameras and wireless technology to allow the most vulnerable children and young people to access the grounds here, knowing that help can be with them very quickly if required.

“We have also been able to purchase a bespoke bed, which will allow us to provide a wide age group of children and young people with a safe and comfortable environment for them to sleep, allowing us to offer the families as many choices as possible to make their stay the best experience.”