Charity celebrates 10th birthday

Basingstoke Gazette: Sebastian Gates Sebastian Gates

IT WAS his dying wish that it would be built – and now the charity which runs a holiday home for seriously-ill children and their families has marked 10 years in existence.

Sebastian Gates was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour aged seven and died from the rare form of childhood cancer on Christmas Eve 2003.

In the month before his death, nine-year-old Sebastian launched a fundraising drive to establish a holiday home that would provide somewhere exclusively for families like his to spend precious time together, away from hospitals and punishing treatment programmes that govern the lives of cancer patients and others with life-threatening conditions.

He was interviewed about the idea in December 2003. At the time, Sebastian was very poorly and struggling to breathe.

He relied on his mother Jane to speak for him but managed to convey that he wanted somewhere that would be open all year round for children and their whole family to enjoy.

Jane, who is chief executive officer of Sebastian’s Action Trust, said: “It was a brief interview but one that is etched on the families’ hearts.”

His wish became a reality after The Bluebells, in North Waltham, opened in 2011.

Mrs Gates said: “It hardly seems possible that we have reached the 10th anniversary of establishing Sebastian’s Action Trust when Sebastian’s wish was first published.

“We have enjoyed reflecting on what we as a trust, together with our supporters, have achieved over the decade – from humble beginnings to a nationally recognised, innovative charity, which remains family focussed.”

She added; “Two years on from the opening, The Bluebells continues to bloom – it is a unique, thriving, yet peaceful haven, offering the chance for the happy family times my son envisaged.”

Mrs Gates said the trust is now looking to the future, to grow its services. The trust is raising funds for an extension to The Bluebells to include a counselling and advice centre, well-being suite and communal area for day visits.

Mrs Gates said: “We remember our founder Sebastian, who is never far from our thoughts and on whose values and fighting spirit the trust was built.”

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