Staff from a leading building firm returned to the scene of one of its most high-profile triumphs after being shown around The Treehouse, in Ipswich. Barnes Construction started working on the East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) base in Spring 2010.
The state-of-the-art building, in St Augustine’s Gardens, welcomed its first children and young people in 2011 before being officially opened by Royal Patron The Princess of Wales – then The Duchess of Cambridge – in March 2012.
To mark more than a decade since that momentous day, representatives from Barnes Construction were invited back for a guided tour with EACH service manager Nathan Muskett.
Joint-managing director Bob Steward was among the group and said it was a “proud and satisfying experience.”
“It was lovely to go back and the building looks fantastic, both inside and out,” he said.
“In some respects it seems longer since the hospice opened, but, in others, I can’t believe a decade has slipped by already. It’s been so well maintained and there isn’t any wear and tear. All of us commented on that.
“When I think about all the people that will have benefitted in the last ten years, it gives me a real sense of pride and satisfaction. It’s a building that has added to the wider society here and going back was a very special experience.”
During their tour, the team bumped into retired colleague David Faichney, who was the contracts manager for The Treehouse. He now offers his services as a volunteer.
Prior to the building opening, EACH had previously been delivering care from a small bungalow, which opened in July 1999. However, it became inadequate for the demands of children’s hospice services in the area.
EACH needed a base able to support more families but purpose built for specialist care, including dedicated spaces for specialist therapies, equipment, symptom management, counselling, end-of-life care and groups and activities.
The Treehouse, set in a four-acre woodland plot, has therefore changed the way it helps children, young people and families across Suffolk and North Essex.
It took £3.7 million to build and equip, with 100 per cent of funds donated and raised by supporters. £700,000 was raised before The Treehouse Appeal fundraising campaign was launched in March 2010.
“We were absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to work with EACH,” added Bob, who was surveying director at the time and has been with Ipswich-based Barnes Construction since 1983.
“As a business, we’ve completed lots of work with healthcare organisations, including the hospitals in Ipswich, Colchester and Bury St Edmunds, as well as Addenbrooke’s, in Cambridge. We also built a new hanger and offices at the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance base, in North Weald.
“Since The Treehouse we’ve gone on to build other hospices, including Arthur Rank in Cambridge and Fair Havens, in Southend, and we’re currently working on one in Crawley. It’s become a bit of a specialism.
“However, it was a first for us at the time and very exciting to be involved. It was a high-profile job and there was lots of publicity surrounding it.”
The Treehouse has received the top Care Quality Commission (CQC) rating of Outstanding and, more than a decade since opening its doors, Barnes Construction has continued its relationship with EACH.
The company was joint-headline sponsor for this summer’s Piglet Junior Hog fundraiser. Staff also gave up their time to volunteer and help out on the day.
“Every year, we always set aside a certain amount to support local charities,” said Bob.
“EACH fits that profile perfectly because it’s a very worthy cause right here in the heart of our community. We try and contribute something most years, even if it’s just supporting a golf day.
“We’re really pleased to have continued our relationship and commitment to such an incredible organisation.”
“It’s a building that has added to the wider society here and going back was a very proud and special experience” – staff from Barnes Construction return to The Treehouse – East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices | Norfolk Cambridgeshire Essex and Suffolk (each.org.uk)
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