Some very special guests help teams at Birmingham Children’s Hospital celebrate the ‘topping out’ milestone of its new £37.5million clinical building – Waterfall House.
The key event in construction projects marks the roof of a new build being completed and this was commemorated on Thursday (20 July) – when Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive, Sarah-Jane Marsh, and Chief Nurse, Michelle McLoughlin, officially helped lay the final slab.
Later, they were joined by patients and supporters of both the Cancer Centre and Star Appeals, Matilda Hatton, from Walsall and Sebastian Whatton, from Northamptonshire, who had their handprints immortalised in a ‘Hollywood Walk of fame’ style print, which will be displayed when Waterfall House opens its doors at the end of the year.
The eye-catching building, in Whittall Street on the main Birmingham Children’s Hospital site, will be home to a world-class cancer centre, the country’s first rare disease centre for children and new theatre space.
Eight-year-old, Matilda who attends St. Thomas Moore Primary School, has featured in the ‘Stars of Steelhouse Lane’ campaign as part of the £3.65million Star Appeal that is raising money for the pioneering rare diseases centre.
She is one of only a handful of children in the world to have an extremely rare genetic disorder called Sensenbrenner Syndrome, a multi-system disease that affects many parts of her body, including the liver and kidneys. Her condition also means she has craniofacial problems, shorter limbs and rib cage and she grows at a slower rate than other children.
Sebastian, aged seven, a pupil at Naseby Church of England Primary Academy, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in 2013 – a cancer of the white blood cells. He underwent three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy treatment before thankfully ringing the bell to signal the end of his treatment in 2016 after going into remission. Sebastian and his family also played a key role in the charity’s £4million Children’s Cancer Centre Appeal, raising more than £30,000.
Michelle McLoughlin, Chief Nurse at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, said:
“This is the single biggest investment we have made in our Steelhouse Lane site. We’re all very excited as it will mean the world-class care that we know we provide to our children and young people will be given from world-class facilities.
“The difference that Waterfall House will make to patients like Matilda and Sebastian, who I was honoured to join at our special ceremony, will be huge. We can’t wait to start welcoming patients at the end of this year.”
Each of Waterfall House’s four floors has been carefully designed and will boast features such as staff breakout rooms, single en-suite rooms, play areas and a teenage common room for cancer patients.
The ground floor will have a bright and airy courtyard, café, breastfeeding room and a chill out space. Experts at construction company Interserve have been hard at work on the state-of-the-art building since April 2016.
Sebastian’s mum, Barbara Whatton said:
“The new cancer centre is going to make such a difference to, not just patients and staff, but families too. There’ll be more space, more privacy and places to go for parents to get away when they feel like they need to, and we’re so proud to have played a part in making it possible.”
Matilda’s father, Leslie Hatton added:
“Matilda’s condition means we often have to come in multiple times, in a short space of time, for lots of different things. Having all of her care co-ordinated in one dedicated centre will make our lives so much easier. It’ll cut down on time, meaning Matilda can be in school more regularly, we won’t have to travel so much and it might even lead to answers and better treatments. It really will be an invaluable place for families like ours.”