Acorn's Children's Hospice reopens after major refurbishment

ITV Central reporter Ravneet Nandra spoke to family and staff at the official reopening

A hospice in the Black Country has gone from facing closure, to getting a £2mil refurbishment within four years, thanks to the generosity of the public and benefactors.

Acorns in Walsall was under threat in 2019, which would have made staff redundant and left children and families without respite.

But they stayed open during the pandemic and managed to rally the community together to finally re-open, with state of the art equipment.

Today was the official reopening of the Walsall site. Children and families, staff and volunteers gathered with supporters and Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, for speeches and a ribbon-cutting.

It now boasts completely modernised bedrooms, corridors, dining room, reception and a purpose-built arts and crafts room.

As part of the refurbishment, the new state-of-the-art bedrooms where children stay for short breaks, are the first of Acorns three hospices to have built-in piped oxygen to help meet the increasingly complex clinical needs of the children it cares for.

The hospice campaigned for donations since 2019, with £750,000 raised by the community alone through the charity’s Room to Grow Appeal.

Head matron, Carmel Caldicott said: 'Walsall and the Black Country is really an area of deprivation and many of our families can't afford to have a break any other way.

'It's been a huge journey, four years of rollercoaster rides but we would never have envisaged this would have happened.

It now boasts completely modernised bedrooms, corridors, dining room, reception and a purpose-built arts and crafts room. Credit: Acorn's Children's Hospice

What happened in 2019?

The refurbishment is the first time Acorns in the Black Country, which opened in 2000, has been able to benefit from investment on this scale due to financial constraints.

In 2019, around 20 years after it opened, the charity announced it was to close its Walsall hospice site because it was spending more to run it's three hospices than it was bringing in from charity shops, donations and NHS funding.

Staff were at risk of losing their jobs, and families and children losing their place of respite.

The charity launched a campaign 'Room to Grow' which saw members of the community take part in fundraising activities, such as marathons and climbing mountains.

The craft room is now named after Isabella. Credit: ITV Central

The service provides vital care to more than 200 local children and families every year.

Someone who loved the hospice was Isabella Lyttle. She fought a battle with neuroblastoma- one she lost in 2019.

She especially loved the art room. How fitting that now the newly transformed craft room is named after her.

We've spoken to her father, Mark throughout the years. He was one of a small team of people to plead successfully for more money from Westminster.

'It's like she's still here, to be honest with you. It's the place where I feel the biggest connection with Isabella.

'It was a place of probably escape. She could just be a child and be herself.

The Mayor of the West Midlands reopened the hospice with a ribbon-cutting.