Leicester Mercury

A happy milestone, tinged with sadness


- By ASHA PATEL asha.patel@reachplc.com @ashac_patel

FAMILIES and hospital staff gathered at the King Power Stadium to celebrate an appeal for a new children’s hospital in Leicester hitting its £7.5 million fund-raising target.

The Leicester Hospital’s Charity, which is behind the appeal, has said it is “in awe” of the support it has received so far.

The funds allowed the first phase of the children’s hospital to be completed earlier this year when the world-renowned East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre (EMCHC) moved from Glenfield Hospital to its new home at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

The appeal is set to continue over the coming years as all children’s health services will eventually be moved to the Kensington Building at the infirmary, which will become the East Midlands’ first dedicated children’s hospital.

Asiya Parekh-Rawat, whose late son Yahya was a regular patient of children’s heart services and inspired £250,000 worth of donations towards the cause, said she felt both sadness and joy at seeing how far the children’s hospital has moved on.

She said: “A lot of this is part of Yahya’s legacy to me. It’s joyous because we now have this amazing new facility.

“But it’s also sad for because my baby won’t get to go there.

“The joy from seeing how far this has come does override that sadness, though.”

Throughout Yahya’s life, Asiya said she met many other parents of children who will now benefit from the new facility at the infirmary.

“There’s a whole world out there of families who will have somewhere that’s local where their children can go and get better,” she said.

Five-year-old Patrick Gillespie is one of those who will benefit from the children’s hospital.

His mum, Leah MacDonald, spoke to the Mercury earlier this year about the multiple surgeries he has undergone since he was born with a heart condition.

She said: “Seeing the new location for the site is fantastic – it’s brilliant that it’s here in Leicester.

“It means a lot to me, especially because it’s also where Patrick was born when the centre was a maternity ward.”

Leah moved to Leicester from Corby so her son could be closer to the vital care he needed.

Leah said she is delighted that the service is nearer to her and added that the staff at the hospital “have always been amazing”.

“It’s phenomenal to see how far it has come,” she said.

Hospital staff and the team behind the appeal celebrated the milestone at the King Power Stadium last week.

Lisa Davies, director of Leicester Hospitals Charity said: “This is, by far, the single biggest project that our charity has ever been involved with and we are overjoyed to see phase one completed on schedule.

“We’ve been truly in awe of the support shown by our community to help us do our children proud – not just the volume of people, but the lengths many of them have gone to help.

“We are delighted to celebrate all of them here today and say a heartfelt thank you to all who showed such unwavering support – even during the midst of a pandemic.”

Chairman of the Leicester Children’s Hospital Appeal, Stephen Woolfe, said: “To have raised £7.5 million shows how much the people of Leicester care about giving our children the new hospital they deserve.

“We are deeply grateful to all of the families, businesses and community groups who contribute­d towards helping to make this achievemen­t possible.”

Anyone wanting to contribute towards the future efforts of the Leicester Children’s Hospital Appeal can donate, sign up as a supporter or learn more about the appeal at:

 ?? ?? LOVE AND LOSS: Asiya ParekhRawa­t with her late son, Yahya
LOVE AND LOSS: Asiya ParekhRawa­t with her late son, Yahya

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