Helen & Douglas House officially opened the new look Helen House children’s hospice in Oxford after a major refurbishment, on Monday, 15 September. Helen House was the world’s first children’s hospice and opened 32 years ago.

Tom Hollander, actor, joined children, families, staff , volunteers and supporters to celebrate the occasion, and two children, Ella Dicks, aged 5 from Corsham, Wiltshire and Sam Daly, aged 12 from Eton, cut the ribbon at 18.00 to officially re-open the hospice house

Ella has a complex genetic medical condition and has been visiting Helen House for one year and Sam who has Duchenne Muscular dystrophy has been visiting for 18 months.

The charity received £436,000 from NHS England to carry out some of the work that was needed, but called on people in the community to help raise further funds to carry out vital work at the same time. The refurbishment cost £1.5 million.

Although from the outside the house has changed very little, inside is very different; modern, bright and very comfortable. A more welcoming and spacious reception area has been created and a huge play and holistic therapy area. The kitchen and family dining room has been re-located and refurbished. There is also vastly improved space and ‘flow’ between bedrooms, bathrooms and family areas and plumbed in’ oxygen in all children’s rooms.

Sam Daly’s Mum, Sara, said; “It is absolutely amazing and has the wow factor.  It’s light and bright and the refurbishment has moved the whole place into the 23rd century. Everything is more accessible and friendly and it has such a family feel to it, really homely. Sam is a huge fan of the interactive ‘magic carpet’ and loves the continuous flow between the play area and the garden. He can’t wait until he comes to stay in December.’

Tom Hollander said; “Helen & Douglas House is a cross between a high end care home, state-of-the- art hospital and pleasure palace.  The wonderful thing about the refurbishment is that they have brought it up-to-date and made improvements but retained its spirit.  It continues to bring comfort, consolation, laughter and community.”