Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) has announced that it has been gifted the Ardoch Estate in West Dunbartonshire by the Ardoch Foundation, along with a cash gift of £1 million.
The donation comes from Peter Armitage and his family, who in 2006 bought the estate and set up the Ardoch Foundation as a social enterprise, mainly to benefit children’s charities. They have now taken the decision to close the Foundation and transfer its assets – an 18-bedroom conference centre, event space, cottages and 133 acres of countryside overlooking Loch Lomond – to CHAS.
CHAS offers a full family support service to babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions and currently operates two hospices, Rachel House in Kinross and Robin House in Balloch.
Peter Armitage explained why CHAS was the preferred charity for the Ardoch Estate:
“When I first visited Ardoch in 2006 it took my breath away and lifted my spirits, it still does. I want as many people as possible to have the same experience, especially those who are at turning points in their lives. Ardoch has a canny way of putting everything in perspective, it generates hope, joy, laughter and friendships. Our neighbours, CHAS, can leverage this magic and share it much more widely than I can. Ardoch has very exciting future ahead.”
The charity now wants to build on its current work while also extending its services. The initial vision for the estate is that it could provide respite holidays for the siblings of those children visiting its hospices elsewhere, as well as supporting events for CHAS families.
The estate could also be used as a centre of learning for palliative care, supporting learning for families, volunteers and staff from CHAS, the NHS and many other partners, as well as retaining a commercial function to bring in income for CHAS. A plan to realise that vision is now being developed through a consultation process with children and families, health professionals, professional advisors, staff and colleagues.
For the time being, it will be business as usual with Ardoch continuing to be run as it is now and honouring existing bookings while CHAS works closely with the management team, business partners and local stakeholders to understand Ardoch’s full potential by building its knowledge and understanding of the estate. Although the assets will be handed over mid-2020, CHAS will take over the operational responsibilities in 2021. The monetary contribution will help to ensure that this process happens smoothly and in a way that will support all CHAS’s services, both now and in the future.
Rami Okasha, who took up the post of CEO of CHAS on 1 February, said:
“This is momentous for CHAS, the children and the families we support. We will not use Ardoch as a hospice because we have set ourselves challenging strategic goals, including reaching more people in innovative and diverse ways. We are also developing our palliative services in collaboration with others, supporting staff and volunteers and increasing fundraising activity. The gift of Ardoch gives CHAS an unparalleled opportunity to do all of this in a timescale we could never have dreamed of.”
Maria McGill, who has just retired as the charity’ CEO, said:
“It was a huge surprise when the initial approach came from the Armitage family, because Peter saw a perfect fit between CHAS and Ardoch. Whilst excited at the prospect, it was an unexpected development for us. We took our time to do due diligence and carefully consider this amazing gift to ensure that we could make the best use of it whilst maintaining our focus on supporting children with life-shortening conditions. We are thrilled that this been made possible through the kind generosity of Peter Armitage and his family.”
Main image: Rami Okasha and Maria McGill at Ardoch. Copyright Chris Watt www.chriswatt.com
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