A grand plaque unveiling has celebrated ARCHIE’s continued partnership with NHS Highland.
A special ceremony on Wednesday (12th February) marked the official opening of the Highland Children’s Unit following a £2 million pound fundraising drive by The ARCHIE Foundation.
Patients and staff have been able to use the top class facility since 2016, but the celebration commemorated the ongoing work between the charity and NHS Highland.
Thousands of children have passed through the doors to the unit which was carefully designed to provide a more child-centred atmosphere with its cheerful and brightly-coloured decoration, better layout and own designated entrance.
The occasion also saw the unveiling of phase one of ARCHIE’s Fresh Air Project, which aims to transform the outdoor spaces at the unit child friendly making them much more appealing for young patients and families who spend time at the hospital.
The next phase, expected to be completed in the summer, will feature topiary dolphins, stags and will see the installation of a retractable cover for the unit’s play area so children will be able to have fun outside whatever the weather.
On hand for the unveiling and tour of the unit was Professor George Youngson CBE. He was the inspiration behind the unit and instrumental in bringing the charity to the Highlands having seen the impact ARCHIE made at Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital, where he was a surgeon and a member of the original fundraising board.
Prof Youngson was joined at the ceremony by former Fundraising Board Chairman and Inverness businessman David Sutherland CBE who played a vital role in the charity reaching its initial £2m fundraising target.
Professor George Youngson said: “Development of this unit has been an important step in providing high quality clinical care for children in the North of Scotland. It has created the right place, for the right staff, to give the right care, with the right equipment and the right facilities. The unit is also able to support the families to, in turn, support their youngsters during their treatment.
“It has produced an environment that has been able to blend a purpose-built child friendly space with an effective place for the clinical staff to provide high quality care in a clinically safe manner. It focuses on all the needs of the child during their illness or after their injury and its development is a great credit to the communities of the Highlands, their leaders, the variety of organisations involved, but principally the people and families of the North of Scotland.”
David Wood, Chief Executive of The ARCHIE Foundation, said: “I am so proud to be here today to celebrate this fantastic partnership between ARCHIE and NHS Highland.
“We can’t wait to build on our relationship having helped fund the Highland Children’s Unit and our more recent Fresh Air Project.
“We are working on the next steps to help ensure children and their families have the best hospital experience and ease any anxieties they may have in what can be a stressful time.
“But I’d like to thank the public who have supported us throughout our journey. We rely on our supporters to raise money for The ARCHIE Foundation and make all of these things possible. We simply couldn’t do it without them and our incredible Highland Fundraising Board.”
Current Highland Fundraising Board Chairwoman Mary Nimmo said: “I would like to extend our most grateful thanks to everyone who helped us in making our Fresh Air Project dream into a reality. We have been humbled and astounded by the generosity of so many.
“We are delighted to be here today to celebrate our amazing Children’s Unit and the Fresh Air Project reaching completion of its first stage.
“To all of the supporters of The ARCHIE Foundation, whether they have supported in the past or present, we are truly appreciative of all your time, generosity and hard work which was fundamental to the opening of this unit and project within the Highlands and Islands.”
April Emmott, Senior Nurse for Paediatric Services, said: “Working with The ARCHIE Foundation has been a real collaboration starting with the initial talks about what might be possible in Highland, and through to the development and opening of the Highland Children’s Unit. The collaboration has continued since the unit opened and it is great that this partnership will continue to benefit the patients and families that we see here.
“The Highland Children’s Unit sees patients from across the Highlands and the work done so far has really enhanced the patient experience.
“It’s been exciting seeing the plans come to fruition and I really would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has helped with the fundraising for this project. We are always so humbled by people’s generosity, and how much time and effort people put in to helping us. We really do appreciate it.”