A Stranraer boy who spent his 12th birthday party in a Glasgow centre for young cancer patients has cut the cake on the facility’s first anniversary.
Hamish McGuigan, now 13, returned to Marion’s House, CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home in Glasgow, to join in the celebrations with charity staff, volunteers, and other families.
Hamish and his family would have faced a four hour, 160-mile round trip from their home in Stranraer, but instead were able to stay at the home.
The McGuigan family were knocked sideways when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last January, when he was 11 years old.
Realising they wouldn’t be able to travel regularly to Glasgow during treatment. They all stayed in the Home from Home for more than six months.
Kirsty, Hamish’s mother, said: “Things moved very quickly between Hamish being unwell and us getting the diagnosis. The whole thing is overwhelming and the practical side of things can be hard to process.
“As Hamish went through treatment he was very unwell at times. This house just meant we could spend the most time possible with him. It also gave him somewhere to come when he was well enough.
“The teenagers’ rooms have lots of great games and things for him to do, and his brother and sister could come here as well, so we could be together as a family. The staff, led by Tracy Rodger, are just fantastic.
“Marion’s House is an amazing place, it really is a home from home. The staff are terrific and take care of everyone so well. Having somewhere to stay so close to the hospital made such a difference and made life so much easier.”
The home also provides a haven where they can relax outside of the wards, cooking their own food, doing washing, and spending time together as a family.
The Home from Home, in Linthouse Drive, provides free accommodation for children and young people struck by cancer and their families, taking away the huge expense of regular travel for treatment, which can often stretch to round trips of hundreds of miles.
CLIC Sargent has been providing a Home from Home in Glasgow since 1997, when Cruachan House was opened. However, when the NHS announced that it would be moving the Royal Hospital for Sick Children to a new site, a new home was needed.
The charity launched its £3.3million Scotland Homes from Home Appeal, aimed at providing Marion’s House, as well as a new home in Edinburgh, where the hospital was also being moved.
Marion’s House has 11 family bedrooms, three communal kitchen diners, lounges, a play room, a teenage space and a garden. In its first year it has hosted close to 100 families, staying for an average of 29 days.Charity supporters and families enjoyed a celebratory tea party at the house to mark the successful year.
CLIC Sargent Chief Executive Kate Lee, said: “We are delighted to be celebrating a year of providing a haven for young lives struck by cancer here in Glasgow.
“A cancer diagnosis means normal life stops for the child or young person, and their family. Treatment is gruelling and often happens many miles from home. Many families struggle with the huge financial costs of regular travel, as well as the emotional impact of time spent apart.
“This home provides a safe haven where families can relax, cook their own meals, and spend time together, just a short walk from the hospital.
“We know that hundreds of young cancer patients and their families will be in need of support over the coming years and we are dedicated to being there for every one of them.”
“It really is a Home from Home”
Also attending was Cliff O’Gorman, CEO of one of the home’s lead funders, Children with Cancer UK.
This was Cliff’s first visit to the home, which was named in memory of his mother and co-founder of his charity, Marion O’Gorman.
He said: “We are delighted that funding from Children With Cancer UK goes towards such an important initiative. Marion’s House, in its first year, has delivered a much-needed sanctuary for those affected by this devastating disease.
“For young people especially, having the simple comforts of a place you can call home during such draining treatment is vital.
“We are very proud to have this Home from Home named in memory of the late Marion O’Gorman, who worked tirelessly to support children with cancer. Undoubtedly, Marion’s House will provide many more years of crucial support for families at a time when they need it most.”
CLIC Sargent is continuing to fundraise for its next Home from Home in Edinburgh. It needs a further £425,000 in order to hit the £3.3million target for both homes.
Now fundraising partner the Crerar Hotels Trust has pledged to double the money raised by matching any donations made up to that £425,000 total.
Paddy Crerar said: “Crerar Hotels Trust is delighted in every way to support CLIC Sargent. Their tireless work makes a massive difference to countless families struggling with the physical and emotional effects of cancer and its treatment.
“I hope our customers can be as proud as we are that together we have been able to help CLIC Sargent through our Charitable Trust quite frankly, because of our patronage.
“Everyone involved with Crerar Hotels and our Charitable Trust has been inspired by the courage of the families that find themselves battling this terrible disease. The help CLIC Sargent gives them is priceless – we wish them all the very best and look forward to continuing our support.”
To support the appeal and help to create a Home from Home in Edinburgh, text “Home” to 70020 to donate £3 or visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/donate