First patients welcomed to brand new, specialist centre for children with sight and hearing loss
Over 8,000 children a year will benefit from the first-of-its-kind facility
Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) welcomes its first patients to the new Sight and Sound Centre supported by Premier Inn, the UK’s first dedicated medical facility for children with sight and hearing loss.
Seven-year-old twins Iona and Beth Farshi were among the first patients to be treated, accompanied by their mother Judith Farshi. Iona and Beth were born with cataracts in each eye, Iona had her cataracts removed and artificial lenses inserted into her eyes as a baby to improve her quality of vision, while Beth has not required surgery. Both twins remain under the close care of the ophthalmology department and will now be seen at the dedicated Sight and Sound Centre supported by Premier Inn at GOSH.
The brand-new facility, which patients at GOSH helped to design, will transform the experience and care of children and young people from across the UK. Patients and over 100 clinicians have moved from outdated existing facilities into the brand new, bespoke Centre designed especially for these children’s sensory needs.
The grade II listed building is situated in London’s Holborn, just moments away from the main GOSH site.
A first-of-its-kind for children in the UK, the Centre features state-of-the-art soundproofed booths for hearing tests, an eye imaging suite, a dispensing opticians and other testing facilities. There is also a sensory garden with plants that children can see, touch, smell and hear, and bespoke and engaging artworks especially commissioned for children with sensory loss.
Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) pledged £25million towards the costs of the Centre, with employees, customers and suppliers from Premier Inn & Restaurants raising over £10million towards that target.
Premier Inn owner Whitbread has enjoyed a long relationship with GOSH Charity as part of its Force For Good strategy and has already raised millions towards the redevelopment of a 240-bed clinical building which opened in 2018.
Team efforts ranged from raffles, golf days and quiz nights to more creative campaigns. These included one employee being sponsored to give up bacon butties for a month and another who took the phrase ‘sleeping on the job to whole new levels’ by hosting a 48-hour bed-in in the lobby of Premier Inn London Hayes. Many customers donated when booking their stay online or dining in Whitbread restaurant chains, while the award-winning ‘Your Everest Powered by Wellbeing’ employee fundraising campaign also encouraged staff to tackle a sporting challenge or pick up a new hobby in return for donations to GOSH Charity.
The money raised helped redevelop the specialist facility that children at the hospital with sight and hearing loss were involved in designing, to create a welcoming, comfortable environment that is fully accessible and easy to navigate.
Sensory artworks include Pythagoras Stairs, an artwork composed of 12 fully functioning organ pipes which play as patients and families climb and descend the Centre’s spiral staircase. A series of hand-glazed ceramic artworks in the waiting areas combine playful abstract shapes and recognisable objects; they include designs by children and were inspired by workshops with families at GOSH.
Thanks to their ongoing care at GOSH, patients Iona and Beth are doing well, as their mum Judith Farshi explains: “They have the best vision that they possibly could have, for children born with cataracts in both eyes, and that’s all down to the team at GOSH. If they hadn’t acted when they did with Iona in particular, she might have lost her vision.
“To the donors who have made the new Sight and Sound Centre supported by Premier Inn possible, I’d like to say thank you. You are allowing people at GOSH to make a real difference to our children’s lives. You are helping to buy wands for the magicians. And as a parent, I’m so grateful.”
Louise Parkes, Chief Executive at GOSH Charity said: “We’re so proud that the Sight and Sound Centre supported by Premier Inn is now treating its first patients. I’d like to pay tribute to all our donors, and particularly Premier Inn for their employees, suppliers and customers’ passion and ingenuity in fundraising towards the Centre’s completion.
“Premier Inn have been by our side during one of the most challenging times for the NHS and for charitable fundraising, and we couldn’t be more grateful. The impact all our supporters have had is clear to see in the UK’s first dedicated facility for children with sight and hearing loss, which will help hundreds of children who come to GOSH for specialist care every day. Thank you.”
Mat Shaw, Chief Executive at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) said: “After a really challenging year for the NHS, I am absolutely delighted to see this fantastic new facility welcome our patients, their families and our hard-working staff through its doors. Children with sensory loss have unique needs, and thanks to this new facility we can treat them in surroundings that will enhance their overall experience of coming to GOSH, taking away some of the challenges or worries they faced in our older spaces.
“On behalf of GOSH, I’d like to thank everyone who has helped us make this UK-first facility a reality for the children we exist to support.”
Simon Ewins, Managing Director Premier Inn UK, said: “We couldn’t be more delighted to mark the opening of the new Sight and Sound Centre, supported by Premier Inn, a life-changing facility which will make an immeasurable difference to the lives of children – and their families – across the UK. From marathons to sleepathons the endless creativity of our teams has helped ensure we achieved our fundraising target and we’d like to offer them – and of course our guests – our heartfelt thanks for their amazing efforts”.
The Centre will house Ophthalmology and Audiology (including cochlear implant) specialities, as well as Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) and speech and language therapy services. The opening of the Centre represents a major milestone in the history of Great Ormond Street Hospital, and in the partnership between GOSH Charity and Premier Inn; the business previously fundraised towards the completion of the Premier Inn Clinical Building at GOSH in 2018.
GOSH Charity is also grateful to the Trustees of the Frank Stone estate; the Valentine’s Party committee, co-chaired by Samantha Bauer and Lisa Reuben; the Kewal Ramani family; the Sight and Sound Gala committee, co-chaired by Nicola Bearman and D’Arcy Vigors; the Love GOSH committee, co-chaired by Tara Falk and Tom Cox; The Thompson Family Charitable Trust; and the many other generous supporters who helped make this centre possible.
For more information about the Sight and Sound Centre supported by Premier Inn, please visit www.gosh.org