New flat allows more Guernsey families with premature babies to stay near Southampton Hospital

ITV Channel's Roisin Gauson reports...

A new flat near Southampton General Hospital will allow more Guernsey families with seriously ill children to get respite during treatment.

Ken and Linda Acott have donated 'Frankie's Den' to the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation (PPBF), a Guernsey charity which supports families with children who need urgent off-island healthcare.

The charity already has two flats in Southampton - 'Aggie's Burrow' and 'Isaac's Pad' - with the latest addition offering more families the chance to have a peaceful and comfortable place to stay.

Frankie's Den is within walking distance of Southampton Hospital. Credit: PPBF

'Frankie's Den' is named after the Acott's late cockapoo and the couple say it was an "enormous pleasure" to be able to help others through difficult times.

One Guernsey family have told ITV News how important it was to have a place to stay near the hospital whilst their newborn baby was having urgent treatment.

Zara Morgan was delivered at 24 weeks with her mother, father and brother staying in 'Aggie's Burrow' for more than three months whilst she was looked after at Southampton Hospital.

Being only two minutes walk away from the neonatal unit, they could be by Zara’s bedside any time of the day or night.

Her mother Alexis Morgan said: "Being so close was just the smallest bit of comfort you could get because you knew that you were going to be there for her.

"I didn't have to worry about getting across town, finding a taxi in the middle of the night, there was a comfort in it, just knowing I was so close to her."

Alexis describes the flat that her family stayed in as a 'lifeline'. Credit: ITV Channel

"Unless you’ve been in the situation where you’ve got an unwell child, it’s difficult to understand how important just bricks and mortar, a flat, can be," she said.

"Whilst all of our energies were focused into our little girl’s health and the day to day dramas and decisions that that took, it meant that we had this refuge to go to and it was one less thing to worry about."Zara is now a strong and happy three-year-old and her parents say their experience in Southampton was helped by the support of the PPBF.

Jo and Andy Priaulx with flat manager Dean Allen at Frankie's Den. Credit: Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation

Jo Priaulx, founder of the PPBF, says there is 'huge demand' for the flats that the charity provides.

"I only had a call yesterday – a young girl wanted to stay in the property with her family, so we’re working away," she said.

"We’ve got somebody else in the other one, so I’m sure we won’t have them empty.

"I know from the families who have been in the flats that they love them – one family was in there for 19 months and made it their home."

The charity hopes to welcome families into 'Frankie's Den' in June.

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