During the visit Sir Alex was joined by 20 year-old Nathan Sturgeon, one of the young people who will benefit from the new-build, and together the pair laid the commemorative first cornerstone. Jonny Evans plus Corrie actors Antony Cotton, Catherine Tyldesley and Ben Price were also on hand to lend support.
Built in 1991, the original hospice, which is one of the Club’s charity partners, is to be retained with construction work progressing well on a new two-storey, seven-bedroom extension. Each bedroom will be fitted with specially adapted PS3s, self-lowering wash basins and individual balconies overlooking the courtyard garden. The new facilities, that will also include a recording studio, cinema room and communal lounge, will provide a place of relaxation for teenagers and young adults with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions, whilst giving their parents a break from their role as carers.
Sir Alex, who has been a long-term supporter of the charity, commented, “21 years ago I came to the big opening of Francis House with Sir Matt Busby, so I have been very connected to it for a long time.” He continued, “The work they do is unbelievable. I’m delighted to be here; it’s a very worthy place to support.”
Nathan added, “It’s really special to see my name next to Sir Alex’s on the cornerstone that we laid.” Discussing Francis House he said, “It’s really nice, we are able to chill out, relax and be ourselves. The extension is really exciting; I can’t wait until it is finally built!”
Inside the Hospice, Sir Alex, Jonny and the Coronation Street actors mingled with children and their parents who come to Francis House for respite care, posing for photographs, signing autographs and putting smiles on faces.
Corrie’s Catherine spoke to Joanne and Craig, parents to Katie who receives care at Francis House: “Francis House has had a massive positive effect on our family; it’s the amount of support we receive and not even while we are here but the support all through the year,” Joanne said. “It’s unbelievable, it’s like going on holiday but someone else has come with us to look after Katie. She’s made loads of friends and loves being with the staff; to her she is coming away and seeing all her extended family.”
The Coronation Street actors visited Francis House ahead of the Ladies Lunch in November, proceeds of which are split equally between the Foundation, the Hospice and the Club’s other local charity partner The Christie. At the event the trio will discuss their visit and a film of the day will be played to showcase the wonderful work that occurs there.
Following a tour of Francis House, which includes dedicated music, art, soft play and aromatherapy rooms, plus a Jacuzzi pool and a chapel, Antony Cotton commented, “Francis House is a home away from home and there is always an amazing atmosphere. The intention is for it to be a place of joy rather than a place of illness and it does feel like a happy house; it is a wonderful, wonderful place.”
To find out more about Francis House and the plans for the extension please visit their website www.francishouse.org.uk.
For more information or to get involved with the Ladies Lunch to support Francis House, The Christie and the Manchester United Foundation please click here.