Donations from the local community, including a phenomenal one-off donation in tribute to Walsall girl Isabella Lyttle has helped an Acorns Children’s Hospice Appeal take a major step forward.
The Acorns Room to Grow Appeal, a £750,000 appeal to refurbish the charity’s Black Country hospice in Walsall, has received a significant £280,000 donation from a benevolent fund made up of former Goodyear Wolverhampton workers.
The money, from the 5/344 branch of the Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Fund Charity (ex Goodyear Workers), will be used to completely transform the hospice’s arts and crafts room, named Isabella’s Place in memory of Walsall girl Isabella Lyttle and brings the Appeal total to £400,000 – over half of the amount needed.
Chairman of the Benevolent Fund, Cyril Barrett, spoke of the pride of the trustees and management committee of the charity at being able to create a lasting legacy in the community, as the group brings its charitable activities to a close, seven years since its inception in 2015.
He said: “This hospice has a very special place in our hearts, and we know first hand how important it is to the local community having previously donated £21,000 to the hospice multisensory room.
“It feels only right that as we draw the Benevolent Fund to a close, that one of our final acts of kindness will go towards something that provides vital care to so many children and their families, right across the Black Country.
“Like many people, we were touched by the plight of the hospice in 2019 and inspired by families just like Isabella’s. We’re immensely proud that we are in a position do something that will ensure many more families will benefit from Acorns, long into the future.
“We are also pleased to be supporting a new Family Care Suite where families can spend precious time together with their child thanks to this gift.”
Isabella Lyttle’s parents Mark Lyttle and Jen Dalton were at the heart of the local community effort to help raise vital funds for the children’s hospice on Walstead Road, when financial uncertainty placed the much-loved facility under threat in 2019. The Acorns Room to Grow Appeal aims to raise funds towards a number of significant upgrades at the hospice, including the ten children’s bedrooms where children stay for short breaks, emergency or end-of-life care, and a new purpose-built arts and crafts room. The work will see the hospice become the first Acorns hospice to have piped oxygen, recognising the increasing complexities of the children it cares for.
Toby Porter, Acorns Chief Executive, said: “We are simply overjoyed at how the community has mobilised to push this Appeal over the halfway mark and the donation from the Transport and General Workers Union is just incredible. It’s difficult to put into words how grateful we are.
“Thanks to this support, many more families, just like Isabella’s will receive specialist children’s hospice care. It’s a legacy that will be felt in the Black Country for many years to come.
“We’ve made significant steps towards our vision to transform the spaces where local children and families spend precious moments and receive the specialist care they need. I hope this inspires more people to act and support our Appeal. Every penny raised, small or large will make a huge difference.”
The 5/344 branch of the Transport and General Workers Union Benevolent Fund Charity (ex Goodyear Workers) was established following the closure of the Wolverhampton Goodyear Tyre factory in 2015, from what was the workers’ sick pay fund. The scheme has supported more than 140 good causes across Wolverhampton and the Black Country in that time, creating a living legacy to the ex-members of the 5/344 TGWU branch (ex Goodyear Workers).
Acorns in the Black Country, which had been placed under threat of closure due to financial difficulties, was saved in April 2021 thanks to the actions and generosity of numerous individuals, businesses, celebrities, and sporting teams from across the local community.
During the pandemic, the hospice remained open every single day, providing the vital services local children and their families needed, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It cost Acorns £27,000 per day to provide its care and support, the bulk of which comes from fundraising and donations.
To find out more about the Acorns Room to Grow Appeal and how you can get involved, please visit www.acorns.org.uk/roomtogrowappeal