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18 May 2010, 18:29
More than 200 children with life-limiting illnesses can now stay overnight at Dorset's only hospice to give their parents a break.
Until now Julia's House in Corfe Mullen has only been able to look after children during the day but a new wing is now open which means they can offer 24 hour care.
Lisa Dennis's 15 year old son Alec was one of the first to stay over last weekend: She told Heart: "He absolutely loves it and the staff. A lot of work had to go on before Alec's stay because obviously he is very complex and needs oxygen support and has a very strict drug regime. So we had to make sure the package they were offering us was correct. It was, and had a brilliant time, he was so excited before he went.
"Alec being able to stay there overnight will now mean I can get a babysitter in for my other children and have a bit of time for myself."
The new wing, housed within a small extension includes the Mermaid suite, a private area consisting of a child's bedroom and en suite for family members and a courtyard garden.
It costs around £2.6m to run Julia's House, yet the charity receives just three per cent of its total annual funding from the government.
It therefore relies heavily on fundraising, and today tots from across Dorset are taking part in a big Toddlethon in Poole park to raise money.