1. ITV Report

Work begins on 'home away from home' for families with sick children in Oxford

  • Watch Juliette Fletcher's report below:

Interviewees: Laura & Rob Kearns, Parents & Karen Steinhardt, Clinical Director, Children's Hospital & Martin Keown, Ronald McDonald House Ambassador

Work has officially begun on a new 'home away from home' for families of young hospital patients in Oxford.

The Ronald McDonald House is costing more than £14 million.

The 62 bedroom purpose-built home will replace the existing 17 bedroom facility on the top floor of Oxford Children's Hospital.

Billy and Finley Kearns got to sit in a digger at the launch Credit: ITV Meridian

The family of two-year-old twins Billy and Finley Kearns, were offered accommodation when Billy needed bowel surgery and became seriously ill.

Mother of the twins, Laura Kearns, said they were "absolutely distraught" at the thought of having Billy ill in hospital and Finlay at home, and they didn't know how they would manage.

Laura added that they were able to stay there as long as they wanted to which was "absolutely fantastic".

This is what the new Ronald McDonald House will look like Credit: Ronald McDonald House

There are 15 Ronald McDonald Houses across the country, including one in Southampton which opened four years ago.

It enables families, who have to travel long distances to get specialist care for their children, to stay over and visit their children whenever they want to.

The average distance travelled from home to hospital by a Ronald McDonald House resident last year was 78 miles.

bricks will be used to build the Ronald McDonald House

The new Ronald McDonald House will have family bedrooms and communal facilities providing areas for cooking, eating, laundry and relaxing.

It is expected to open in the summer of 2020.

The Ronald McDonald House in Southampton is already helping families Credit: ITV Meridian
tonnes of steel will be used to build the Ronald McDonald House

Ronald McDonald House Charities are looking for support from the local community to raise the remaining £1 million needed to fit and furnish the house.

Volunteers are also wanted to help get the house ready and to provide support.

Former Brighton and Reading footballer, Martin Keown who lives in Oxford, was there to launch the event.

Former Brighton and Reading footballer Martin Keown was at the event Credit: ITV Meridian