Haven House Hospice heritage explored at Redbridge Museum

�Children and adults gathered to mark the end of an 18-month project to explore the heritage of Haven House Children’s Hospice.

Dressed in Edwardian costume and current fashions, members of the project performed talks on the house’s history to a gathering of hospice families and dignitaries on Monday at Redbridge Museum, Ilford Central Library in Clements Road, Ilford.

The project has been run with children in the hospice’s Buddy scheme, which gives support to the siblings of children being treated by the hospice for life-limiting illnesses.

‘Fun experience’

Twins Gurtas and Harbhajan Singh, nine, from Walthamstow, said they enjoyed the project, which included leaf-pressing, making ceramics and paper, building dens in the house’s grounds, interviewing people about the house and learning performing arts.

“It was a fun experience,” said Harbhajan.

The gathering launched an exhibition of what the children, aged between 5 and 15, had learned and created at Redbridge Museum.

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One of the older Buddies, Ayse Kaye, 15, of Limps Farm, Chigwell, said: “It’s really good fun, keeping everything in check, making sure that the younger ones don’t go off. It makes you more confident in different areas and it’s cool to make new friends.”

Social worker Babs Keller, who started Buddies more than five years ago, said the project was an opportunity for children to understand more about the history of the house, known as The White House, and the people who lived there, as well as to come to terms with the cycle of life by getting close to nature.

“It’s an opportunity to bring together people who have similar experiences and circumstances. We can talk about things they can’t talk about in the school playground,” she said.

John Irwin, whose wife Sue founded Haven House, in High Road, Woodford Green, also praised the project.

He said: “A lot of people find that if you’ve got a child that needs 24-hour care the other siblings are going to suffer.”