Martin Keown kicks off building with twins, Finley and Billy Kearns, and mum and dad, Laura and Robert.
Former Arsenal and England star Martin Keown has helped kick off building at the new accommodation for families with seriously ill children in Oxford.
The footballer from Oxford broke ground at the new 62-bedroom Ronald McDonald House on the John Radcliffe Hospital site on Wednesday, 6th February. The house will provide families with free accommodation while their children are being treated to save them having to go to and from the hospital.
Among those at the ceremony were two-year-old twins Finley and Billy Kearns, whose parents Laura and Robert spent more than four months at the current house after the twins were born prematurely. Billy needed surgery to reverse a stoma. The £14million facility is due to open in summer next year with 62 en-suite bedrooms and communal living facilities, including kitchens, lounges, playrooms, laundry rooms and a garden.
The current 17-bedroom house has experienced a rise in demand over the last 15 years and while last year it accommodated 600 families, it had to turn a further 300 away.
Ronald McDonald House Charities has raised £9million, Oxford Hospitals Charity has added £2.5million, Children with Cancer UK is donating more than £280,000 and McDonald’s employees and customers has raised £1.5million. A further £1million is still needed to fit and furnish the house and the charity is looking to the local community to help them in this fundraising effort, as well as for volunteers to help get the house ready and provide support.
CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities Jon Howard said last week they were delighted to begin the expansion work. Thanking all those who have helped, he added: “We know from research it is beneficial for the health of family members and their child to keep them close together, and that comfortable and supportive accommodation nearby is a key enabler in this process.”
Head of the paediatric psychology department Dr Karen Steinhardt with the range of services available at Oxford, families are increasingly travelling from further afield for treatment. She said: “This new accommodation at Ronald McDonald House Oxford will allow more families to be close by in the hospital grounds.
“It will allow them to get more rest and sleep, eat properly and lead as normal a life as possible ad importantly, feel able to make the best decisions about their child’s health.”
The new building will be open to families with children being cared for at Oxford Children’s Hospital as well as Children’s Critical Care and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit on the John Radcliffe site.
Picture credit: Richard Cave