Songs of compassion and words of hope, gratitude and wonder filled the air as the country joined together to celebrate a new chapter in the history of the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales.
Cake cutting Young patients, their families and hospital staff were joined by celebrities, dignitaries and officials for the official opening of phase two of the hospital.
The many guests were treated to a specially written song composed by the hospital’s own Noah’s Ark Angel’s choir as praise was heaped on the new ‘world class’ facility and the people who make it such a success.
First Minister Carwyn Jones, who announced an extra £1.2 million of additional funding for the hospital and officially opened phase two, said: “When I look around this building, I try to find the words to describe it – but the main word I always come back to is ‘wow’.
“This new building will help deliver the spirit, welcoming atmosphere and treatment these children need.
“There are fewer facilities better in Europe than this hospital.”
It will provide world class services under one roof including specially designed surgical theatres, hydrotherapy and MRI facilities, tailor made ward areas and plenty of areas for play.
The first phase of the hospital has seen a quarter of a million visits by sick children from across Wales providing specialist treatment, care and support for them and their families.
The £64 million, Welsh Government funded, second phase of the Children’s Hospital was a moment of celebration and thanks as the countless supporters and fundraisers from around Wales were applauded for their generosity.
Maria Battle, the Chair of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: “This hospital is a real tribute to the character and compassion of the people of Wales.
“It was heart-warming to see the children’s smiles when they came into this new phase and staff moved to tears when they saw the bright new facilities for the first time.
“None of this could have happened without the generosity of the people of Wales. It is amazing how so, so many members of the public and staff have literally gone that extra mile to fundraise.”
Miss Battle thanked Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital Charity, who has raised £20 million for the hospital since it was launched, for its ‘tireless fundraising, innovation and partnership’ along with all the charities that support the hospital.
She said: “I would also like to thank all our benefactors for their generosity and support, in particular Diane Engelhardt who has made such a generous donation from her Moondance Foundation.
“Finally, on behalf of us all I would like to thank all the dedicated staff who care with such love and compassion and expertise for the children of Wales and their families.”
Diane Briere de I’Isle-Engelhardt, wife of Admiral Insurance Chief Executive Henry, said: “It is such a great pleasure to open the amazing phase two of the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital.
“Knowing that all our children – the future of this country – will now be able to receive the best possible care in this impressive facility is hugely important to my family.
“The children of Wales deserve the best and I am very proud to know that today, they can receive the best care, right here in Wales.
“Thank you to all who have supported this hospital. May it shine as a leading centre for children’s care.”
Dr Jenny Thomas, the health board’s Clinical Board Director for Children and Women, said it was a truly joint venture by health boards, Welsh Government and the third sector.
“It shows what can be achieved when we work together to a common goal.
“This fantastic facility is the result of many people’s dreams and has only been achieved by incredible team work over many years.
“We are immensely proud of the facility and of the dedicated and talented staff who work here. They will always go the extra mile. The result is a gift for the children of Wales and we are so grateful to everyone who has played any part in its development.”
Staff and patient have been telling their stories on the health board’s website and social media accounts in the build up to the big day using the #NACHFW hashtag to promote their work and thank everyone involved in phase two.
harlotte Church, patron of the Noah’s Ark Children Hospital Charity, mixed with staff and patients, posing for photos for guests and with the hospital choir.
She said: “It’s amazing to come here. It’s hard sometimes and gives you perspective on life, but the work they do here is just immense.
“If anything ever happened to any of our children, then there’s this amazing, state-of-the-art, world-class facility here.”
Ten-year-old Tia Walters, who has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, was unable to get out of her hospital bed to take part in the celebrations.
But nurses decided to wheel her from the Owl Ward, which is based in phase two, onto the main concourse so she could enjoy the event.
Mum Elaine Saddington said: “The new part completely surpasses the old section. It’s state-of-the-art and so big compared to what the old department was like.
“Tia has been in and out of here since she was born, and the nurses are now like an extension of our family.”