Chestnut Tree House held its 15th Birthday Gala Celebration at the Cooden Beach Hotel on Saturday (October 13), raising £8,600 for the hospice.
The event, the first of its kind to be held by the charity in East Sussex, was hosted by Ambrose Harcourt, DJ and Chestnut Tree House patron.
Among the guests were 15th birthday patrons Jacquie and Barry Hinves and Lester Magoogan, who donated an original piece of artwork for the auction.
Patrons Maureen and Michael Chowen also attended, along with local businesses including Lawler Davis and Barclays Business Banking, and members of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge 6630, who presented the charity with a cheque on the night.
Joining guests was Marios Antionades, who spoke about how his son Jacob is cared for by Chestnut Tree House. Jacob was left with catastrophic brain damage following complications after birth. Initially the future looked bleak, and doctors told Marios and his wife Karen that, even if Jacob survived, he would probably never see, hear, walk or talk.
“To say it was devastating would be an understatement,” Marios told guests. “The first few years were horrendous. Jacob was inconsolable all of the time, in continuous pain.
“He had extremely complex problems and needs, but he did pull through.”
Feeling like they were reaching crisis point, and having barely slept for 18 months, the family was introduced to Chestnut Tree.
“Suddenly we had hope,” said Marios. “A service that would give us a little time each month and some overnight breaks.”
The family receive monthly visits from Chestnut Tree House’s community nursing team, and have made use of the hospice near Arundel for short breaks.
“What impressed me was Chestnut Tree House’s attention to detail. Every single aspect of Jacob’s daily routine is taken care of when he is with them, and we can involve ourselves as little or as much as we like.
“We can be a family. Chestnut Tree House also organise really creative and fun sibling days. We have a nine-year-old daughter, Lily, who has regularly taken part. She loves them and has made really good friends with children in similar situations to hers.”
Marios finished up by telling guests how much his family pays for the care they receive from Chestnut Tree House:
“Absolutely nothing. We can keep telling you how amazing this organisation is, but it does need financial support to offer desperate families, like ours, this wonderful facility and lifeline.”
A raffle, silent auction and live auction all contributed to the final fundraising total, which is more than enough to cover the costs of an entire day of Chestnut Tree House’s care.
“We are over the moon that the event raised so much,” says Libby Hannelle from Chestnut Tree House. “We are working very hard to raise awareness of the care that we offer across the Bexhill and Hastings area, so to have such a well-attended event that has helped to raise vital funds is a huge leap in the right direction.
“We would like to say thank you to the Cooden Beach Hotel for their support, to Jacquie and Barry Hinves for their help in organising the event and to every single person and business who donated prizes for the auction.
“We would also like to thank our guests who made the night so enjoyable and contributed to the fundraising total.”
Chestnut Tree House is the children’s hospice for East Sussex. They care for around 300 children with life-shortening conditions and their families, helping them live For the Now.
You can find out more about the care they offer and ways to get involved at www.chestnut-tree-house.org.uk.