A random act of kindness has proven to be a game-changer for what will be Australia’s third hospice just for children. An anonymous donor has made a formal commitment to match the State and Federal governments’ $3million capital funding.
Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has said, “Whoever that splendid anonymous person was who pledged $3 million to this project, from the bottom of my heart, I am sure from the bottom of all our hearts, thank you so very much.”
What started as a dream for Queensland Kids founders, Paul and Gabrielle Quilliam, is slowly and surely becoming a reality. Their desire for a children’s hospice to offer support to children, teens and their families living with life-limiting conditions has been shared by so many, and communities have rallied for such a desire to come to fruition.
The Hummingbird House project is a joint initiative shared by Queensland Kids and Wesley Mission, whose construction is heavily reliant on donations. Federal and State Government funding has been secured to meet 50 per cent of capital and operating costs at Hummingbird until 2020, but further funds for ongoing operational expenses need to be raised.
Hummingbird House will provide families with access to respite breaks, and parents with a chance to really just be parents, rather than full-time carers. The hospice will operate as an eight bed, 24/7 medical facility, including physician and nursing support, scheduled and emergency respite care, pain and symptom management, and end of life care. It will be a “home away from home” (as described by Mr Quilliam) and will offer world-class paediatric palliative care and respite support. At any one time, it will cater for up to eight children and five families.
Wednesday 18th February marked a giant leap forward in a long journey, with hundreds gathering at the construction site, the campus of Wesley Mission Brisbane’s Wheller Gardens in Chermside.
Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and his wife Margie, attended the ceremony to mark the turning of the first sod. Mount Samson couple Fiona and Mark Engwirda were also among the crowd, and also delighted to see Hummingbird House becoming a reality.
Their daughter, Kate, battled a congenital heart condition, microcephaly and epilepsy before she passed away at the Bear Cottage hospice in Sydney in 2011. Her tragic passing was one of the many driving forces behind Hummingbird House.
Mr Abbott, who often visited Bear Cottage with his wife, a children’s hospice in the PM’s electorate of Manly, had this to say, “All life is precious … young life is particularly precious and when those young lives are not as long as we want them to be, they are absolutely special and the most precious things we can imagine… Nearly all of us here are parents and we would all do anything we could for our children and when our children are sick, the best thing we can do for them is give them the very best care in the most loving possible environment and that is what Hummingbird House will do — it is so necessary.”
Hummingbird House is scheduled to be completed for a gradual opening in the first quarter of 2016,
For more information or to make a donation please visit www.hummingbirdhouse.org.au
By WSS contributor, Melissa Buckle.