Children, families and staff gathered to officially open Haven House Children’s Hospice’s new ‘island’ inspired playground 

The colourful playground, which features a fully accessible wooden pirates ship, wheelchair swing, trampoline and roundabout, was officially opened by the hospice’s patron and well-known television presenter Ben Shephard at a small ribbon cutting ceremony.

The playground, which had remained relatively untouched since the Woodford-Green hospice opened more than 15 years ago, has been transformed into a vision of bright colours, with sensory and interactive equipment thanks to funding received from Euromoney and The London Marathon Charitable Trust.

GMB host and Tipping Point presenter Ben, who has supported the hospice for over a decade, since said: “I grew up locally in Epping and played at just across the road at Woodford Rugby Club. I remember then running through the grounds of what was then The White House. I have so many wonderful childhood memories of what now is Haven House. I have loved seeing the hospice transform over the years and am delighted to be here today to officially open this wonderful playground.

“The hospice does fantastic work in supporting life-limited children and their families in some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. The playground is going to allow for a safe place for children to play whilst creating many happy moments and smiles. It will be a long-lasting legacy for many children and families to enjoy both now and for many years to come.”

Outdoor play forms an important part of the hospice’s work as it has a fundamental role on children’s development and allows them to explore and discover a fun and stimulating outdoor environment where children can play in a safe and secure space.

Haven House cares for around 441 seriously ill children and young providing round the clock care at the hospice and through outreach services in the home and local community. Among the many specialist services provided are day care, over-night stays, end of life care, bereavement support, as well as life enriching activities such as sensory play, music therapy and physiotherapy.

For mum Sylvia, the playground means that all four of her children can play together in a safe environment. She said:

Given that we are even more restricted than other families because of Malachi's health needs, the playground has provided us with a safe and secure escape where we can all have fun as a family.

"It is our only source of safe outdoor space and it’s just fantastic as Malachi can use all the facilities and get around without much difficulty. This is what makes the grounds at Haven House so special and unique for us. The playground gives Malachi a more enriched quality of life as he is not being hindered.”

Haven House would like to thank the playground’s funders Euromoney and The London Marathon Charitable Trust.