Heart hero Sebastian officially opens new play facility he inspired

Nadine and Ivan Hollingsworth and their son Seb open the new playroom at the Freeman Hospital that they have raised the money to build.
Nadine and Ivan Hollingsworth and their son Seb open the new playroom at the Freeman Hospital that they have raised the money to build.

A special borough youngster has officially opened a £300,000 specialist play facility that he inspired.

The new facility at the Children’s Heart Unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, includes technologically-advanced indoor and outdoor equipment, and was paid for thanks to the fundraising efforts of Seb4CHUF, set up by Ivan and Nadine Hollingsworth, from Monkseaton, in honour of their son Sebastian.

When Seb had a lifesaving heart operation five years ago, Ivan and Nadine pledged to raise the necessary funds for a new play facility.

Since then, the couple has organised and taken part in a series of challenging fundraising events, including five unique coast to coast runs, cycles and swims.

Ivan said: “Thinking about this day finally arriving has served as my inspiration for some very dark days in my family’s life over the last four or five years.

“I have this unit to thank that my son Seb is here at all. It’s testament to the care, dedication and skills of everyone here that one of their own heart patients is fit and healthy enough to be bouncing around the play facilities.

“Seb has not just inspired Nadine and me, but so many others who have also ran, swam, cycled and done so many other things to support the charity in the last few years.

“It’s humbling to think we’ve raised enough to completely fund this entire unit.

“This is a very special day, knowing that hundreds of other boys and girls will have the benefits of this facility.”

The play facility includes special zones for all ages, including messy areas, tech zones with video games and widescreen 3D TVs, play kitchen, arts and craft and a mini outdoor ‘city’, with a railway station and painted train tracks and roads.

Play specialist at the Children’s Heart Unit, Joanne Moore, said: “A facility like this is so critical to the holistic care of our young patients on the ward. This isn’t just a ‘nice to have’.

“As well as allowing the kids just to be kids, a fully equipped play facility is crucial in both the pre and post operative care of the child. We’ll be forever grateful to everyone who has helped the Seb4CHUF cause over the last few years and want to publicly thank them for their support of the unit.”

CHUF’s additional fundraising efforts will be marked later this year with the opening of a brand new ‘home from home’, with CHUF and The Sick Children’s Trust having worked together to provide a specially-built accommodation unit for the families of those who have children on the ward, some of whom can be on the ward for up to a year.