Sophie’s lasting legacy continues at Earl Mountbatten

On the fourth anniversary of the death of inspirational Island girl Sophie Rolf (Saturday, 25 November), it has been announced that Sophie’s incredible legacy will enable Earl Mountbatten Hospice to support even more children with life-limiting illness and their families in future.

Through their award-winning partnership with Earl Mountbatten Hospice, KissyPuppy, the Sophie Rolf Trust, already supports the funding of services for children coming to the end of their lives, including a Children and Families Bereavement Service at the hospice. Now Sophie’s trust will fund a bespoke area for children and young people in a separate building on the hospice site, where they can receive day respite, social and emotional support sooner after diagnosis. A number of new spaces for children and young people will be included, such as rooms for group work, relaxation, therapy rooms and areas for socialising.

Aaron Rolf and Gemma Blamire, Sophie’s parents, said: “Of all the months, November is undoubtedly the toughest of them all for us. In the four years since we lost Sophie, we have always tried to put a positive spin on November and this new project continues that trend.

To think that the Island is finally going to have an actual building to house these services is testament to how far we have come, which in turn reflects the level of kindness, support and generosity of our little community.

“As a family that has been through the toughest of times, we know just how important it is to have these services in place and to now have a dedicated area where these services can overlap seamlessly is a fitting conclusion from where we started.

“We are immensely proud of our partnership with Earl Mountbatten Hospice and incredibly excited and proud to be able to pledge our support.  Sophie’s wish to help other children as they helped her is something we are thrilled to be able to continue.

“The £300k that we have pledged for the new children’s area is, of course, a tremendous amount to raise and once again we turn to the Island and hope that they will continue to support us, to ensure these plans become a reality.”

Nigel Hartley, Chief Executive at Earl Mountbatten, said: “So much has already been achieved by Sophie and her family and we are so grateful for their continuing support, which means we can ensure the best quality of care for many more young people much earlier in their life-limiting illness.

“Thanks to our unique partnership, we are already able to provide a bespoke room on our hospice ward for children who are very close to dying and after they have died, when parents can spend time with their child so they can come to terms with their death and say goodbye. Although this service is not needed very often, when it is needed, we are able to offer support to the whole family, who can also access our KissyPuppy Children and Families Bereavement Service following the death of a child or adult. This bereavement service is open to anyone who has experienced any death across our Island community.

“This new development will mean we have more space to offer day respite to children and their families in the years and months leading up to the end of their life, providing them with a space to be with other children and young people in as normal, as joyful and as sociable an environment as possible. We look forward to working with Sophie’s parents, Aaron and Gemma, on creating an area that will mean Island children who are facing terminal illness can really live life to the full, in a safe environment with our experts on hand.”

The announcement marks the first funding commitment towards the wider £1.5m project, which will see the refurbishment of Oak House, a disused building on the Halberry Lane site. As well as the new children’s area, the development will house a number of new initiatives, aimed at ensuring hospice support services will be available for the additional 30% of Islanders who do not currently access them. This will include a new and unique Mountbatten Co-ordination Centre, which will ensure anyone needing hospice care, including older, frail people and those living with Long Term Conditions are known about sooner, so appropriate support can be put in place much earlier.

There will also be facilities for education and training, so that the hospice’s expertise and knowledge in end of life care can be shared with our partners across the Isle of Wight, as well as space to develop a new cohort of volunteers who will in future deliver more services in the places people where people live.

The £1.5m raised through the capital campaign is in addition to the £7m that is needed to continue running current hospice services across the Island, and we remain ever thankful for our community’s continuing support.