Copaceni opening – a unique centre for children living with rare or life-limiting illness – Graham Perolls, Founder of Hospices of Hope by Graham Perolls Founder of Hospices of Hope 

 

Last Friday, 21st September, our country partner, HOSPICE Casa Sperantei, opened Romania's first respite and therapy centre for children who live with rare or life-limiting illness – “Copaceni”.

Copaceni in the sunshine

I was delighted that so many of our supporters from the UK and the USA came to the Opening Ceremony and everyone at Hospices of Hope is so grateful to all our donors and supporters, corporate and individual, who made this possible.  

We could not have reached this milestone without the huge generosity of members of the Florescu family.  The beautiful Copaceni estate was owned by the family and used as its summer residence until 1939 when it was taken over by the communist regime. When it was returned to the family, they decided that Copaceni should be used to help children in Romania suffering from rare or life-limiting illness such as muscular dystrophy and cystic fibrosis. The family donated the estate to Hospice Casa Sperantei so that this dream could become a reality.   

One member of the family, Yvonne Florescu, who is now Sister St. John the Baptist, a nun at Minster Abbey, remembers spending some of her childhood at Copaceni and I was so pleased that she travelled to Romania from Kent to cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony.

Sister St Jean the Baptist, Miruna and Mirela Nemtanu CEO Hospice Casa Sperantei 

I fell in love with the Manor House at Adunatii Copaceni the first time I saw it. As I drove up towards it, through fields full of wild flowers, I could almost visualise our child patients sitting outside, enjoying the beautiful nature all around. I could hardly believe that the Florescu family were offering to give their former summer residence to our charity to help sick and vulnerable children.

It has been a long journey to reach the opening stage. We have faced many unforeseen obstacles but six years later, it wonderful to see the Manor House restored to its former glory and ready to receive children and their families who need the special type of care that Hospice Casa Sperantei can offer.

Friday 21st September was a day of celebration to acknowledge the incredible generosity of all the donors that have made this exciting new project possible.

Many guests started their day by touring the Bucharest Hospice, which we opened in 2014. We then all met at Copaceni for a barbecue followed by speeches. His Excellency Dan Mihilache, Romanian Ambassador to Britain, Madame Nicole Florescu and Anna Scheidereiter from major supporter, Kaufland, all gave speeches. Everyone had the chance to see Copaceni and meet some of our child patients. After Sister St John the Baptist cut the ribbon on behalf of her family, with help from patient Miruna, we had a dedication ceremony. The celebrations finished with a garden party and music provided by opera singer, Neil Lachman, pianist Ancuta Nite and vocalist, Debbie Wilson.

Prayers of Dedication 

The centre will provide a 12-bed respite unit, educational and therapeutic facilities for the children, temporary emergency accommodation for families facing homelessness, an education centre, a day care centre for occupational therapies, a sensory room, a summer camp building and a family therapy centre. More details about the services and facilities are on our Copaceni web page.

A child patient 

When the centre is fully operational respite care will be offered to some 200 children a year. Two thousand outpatient and therapy sessions will be held per year and approximately 300 children will take part in Hospices of Hope’s summer camps.

Our ultimate aim is for Copaceni to be recognised as a centre of excellence in world paediatric palliative care and for us to share the expertise as widely as possible.  

We have completed the building works and thanks again to our supporters have started equipping the centre. We still need some items and these are listed on our House Warming Appeal page on this website.

Is you would like to help our work at Copaceni you may want to sponsor a room or area at Copaceni –details of these opportunities are listed here - please contact me if you would like further information. 

A child patient at Copacen

My thanks to everyone who has contributed to this fantastic achievement.

I am off to Serbia next month for the opening of Phase 1 of our Hospice Centre in Belgrade on 17th October.

 

Graham