Children and staff at a respite centre celebrated when Brighton and Hove Albion chairman Tony Bloom opened a new extension for them.
Mr Bloom, 41, raised £150,000 towards the cost of the extension at Tudor House in Withdean, close to Albion’s “temporary” home.
He raised the money through Rockinghorse, the children’s charity, by running the Brighton Marathon.
And on Friday (15 July) he visited the respite centre on the eve of Albion’s first fixture – in the Sussex Senior Cup Final – at the club’s new Falmer home.
He said how appropriate it was to be able to put something back into the Withdean community which had hosted the Albion for so long.
The extension is packed with specialist equipment for the children with learning and physical disabilities who stay at Tudor House.
The equipment includes a hoist, which allows children who use wheelchairs to practice walking. It gives them a rare and important chance to walk around and reach the whole of a room without the use of standing frames.
Other items include an interactive floor, using a ceiling-mounted projector which responds to the children’s movements. It helps the children with their development as well as being fun.
Clare Brunt, who runs Tudor House, described the day when Rockinghorse brought Mr Bloom along to see the centre when he first decided to run the marathon for charity.
She said that he was chatting about football with one of the children who told Mr Bloom that the Seagulls were rubbish and said that he liked Liverpool.
She added: “My heart sank but fortunately we didn’t put Tony off.”
Parents and supporters of Rockinghorse and Tudor House turned out to watch the official opening.
The short respite offered by Tudor House gives parents a much-needed break from the constant care that is required for a child with disabilities and complex healthcare needs.
At the same time, the children can benefit from specialised equipment and activities that they might not have access to at home.
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