Published: 25/03/2016 19:00 - Updated: 25/03/2016 17:00

Today is a REALLY good Friday

Written byVal Sweeney

Pupils from Drakies Primary School celebrate the good news with Laura MacKintosh, of the ARCHIE Foundation.
Pupils from Drakies Primary School celebrate the good news with Laura MacKintosh, of the ARCHIE Foundation.

A campaign to raise money for a new state-of-the-art children’s unit at Raigmore Hospital has reached its £2 million target.

Launched by The ARCHIE Foundation in conjunction with The Inverness Courier, the appeal has received overwhelming support from individuals, communities, businesses and organisations across the Highlands.

Work to develop the new facility, which will transform children’s healthcare for a generation, is nearing completion and the first patients are set to enter its doors at the beginning of May. It will provide a more child-centred and family-focused environment with its own separate entrance.

The 30-bed inpatient area includes a purpose-built four-bed high dependency unit, a two-bed room for teenagers or patients needing palliative care, drop-down beds for parents and a family room.

It will also feature separate triage and day care areas, an education room, playroom and outside play courtyard and a telehealth

training room.

Inverness businessman David Sutherland, who has steered the appeal for most of the last five years, thanked everyone who had supported it.

"All of us at ARCHIE Highland are enduringly grateful to everyone who played their part, whether you donated 1p, £1 or much more," he said.

The original appeal, launched in March 2011, aimed to raise £1 million to revamp the existing ward. But when the target was reached the following year – way ahead of everyone’s expectations – a decision was taken to push it to £2 million, enabling the creation of a new unit at the former ward 11, previously used for respiratory patients.

"There have been many trials and tribulations, diversions and dead ends but what has happened has been a great example of the public sector and the private sector coming together to make something wonderful happen," he said.

Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael has been invited to open the new dedicated entrance in recognition of financial support from the Inverness Common Good Fund.

Fundraising events over the past five years have ranged from coffee mornings and curry nights to marathon runs and beard growing.

Last week’s massive Highland-wide community effort for Final Push Friday, combined with fundraising efforts by pupils at Drakies Primary School in Inverness each Friday during February pushed the appeal to the finish line.

David Cunningham, The ARCHIE Foundation’s chief executive, acknowledged raising such a tremendous amount of money from a relatively small population had been a big ask but maintained the new unit would transform the experience of being sick for local children and their families.

"While today marks the end of our appeal, in many ways it is also the beginning of our work supporting the unit, the children who will use it and the nurses and staff who will work in it," he said.

"While that next chapter is exciting, today is a time for celebration and giving thanks to all involved for this most exceptional achievement."

He paid tribute to the work of appeal chairman David Sutherland, the appeal board and the local fundraising team.

"Too many to name individually, but I would perhaps highlight the entire team at the Inverness Courier and also Jackie Cuddy at the Eastgate Centre as especially important supporters in taking the appeal to this exciting day," he said.

Linda Kirkland, NHS Highland’s director for operations for the Inner Moray Firth, said she was "chuffed to bits" by the news.

"We’ve been thrilled to be involved with such a great team of people and delighted to have participated in several fun and outrageous fundraising activities," she added.

* Buy The Inverness Courier to discover how one family will benefit from the new facilities plus the verdict from ward staff and how the target was achieved.

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