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Outdoor space at Inverness hospital will be a breath of fresh air for young Highland patients

By Val Sweeney

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Members and supporters of the Archie Foundation celebrate reaching the fundraising target.
Members and supporters of the Archie Foundation celebrate reaching the fundraising target.

A new all-weather play area is to be created for young patients at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness thanks to a fundraising appeal which raised almost £140,000.

The space will feature a garden and topiary animals, including a 30ft Nessie, while fun sail-style canopies will offer shelter from both the sun and the rain, allowing children to play outside whatever the weather.

The Fresh Air Project, which aims to create fun and welcoming areas for young patients and their families away from the confines of the ward, is being led by the Archie Foundation, the official charity of the Highland Children’s Unit at Raigmore.

Although the project appeal had a £100,000 fundraising target, a total of £139,199 has been raised thanks to generous supporters.

Mary Nimmo, chairwoman of the Archie Foundation Highland fundraising committee, thanked everyone who had given donations.

“I once read, ‘you cannot do great things on this earth, only small things but with great love’," she said.

"This has been borne out by the uplifting and incredible generosity of the people of the Highlands and Islands who have truly got on board with this amazing project.

“The children’s unit at Raigmore Hospital provides the most amazing care to our sick children and support to their loved ones. Transforming the outdoor areas around the unit is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of the sick children and their families in the unit.”

The money was raised by individuals and groups within the community, as well as by events planned and supported by the fundraising committee including the highly-successful annual Moonlight Ball held at the Kingsmills Hotel.

David Wood, Archie Foundation chief executive, was delighted to have full funding for the project.

“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped us in our efforts to raise this money," he said. "This includes our dedicated Highland Fundraising Committee who have been instrumental in achieving this goal.

“It really is encouraging to have received so much support from the public and it is clear this is a cause close to the hearts of many people.

“I’d also like to thank NHS Highland for their continued support and we are proud to work with them to provide this brilliant project.”

Stuart Winterburn, a Highland fundraising committee board member, said: “The enthusiasm that has been displayed by people across the Highlands for this cause has been truly amazing.

“This means we can do more for the children’s ward at Raigmore and help make a real difference to the children and people who need it most.”

April Emmott, senior nurse for paediatric services, said having garden areas and all weather outdoor spaces would be of great benefit to patients and their families.

“The Highland Children’s Unit sees patients from across the Highlands and for them to have safe, comfortable outdoor space where they can spend time in the fresh air away from a clinical environment will really enhance their patient experience," she said.

"It will also create a visual display of colour and interest from the in-patients room windows.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped with the fundraising for this project. We are always so humbled by how much time and effort people put in to helping us. We really do appreciate it.”

The new children's unit, which was designed to be child-centred and family-friendly, opened its doors in May 2016 following a £2 million fundraising campaign by the Archie Foundation in conjunction with the Inverness Courier.

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