Young patients at Wales’ only children’s hospital are now able to play outside for the first time, thanks to a newly built play area, the Noah’s Ark Garden. A celebration was recently held to mark the opening of the garden and children, parents, staff and other dignitaries were all in attendance.

The garden play area was funded by the Noah’s Ark Charity, who donated £250,000, and the Welsh Government, who assigned £1.6m to the project. The area is fully accessible and full of vibrant colours. The playground area comes complete with a maze, palm trees and a therapy zone for its patients and their family. A lot of the play equipment has been specially designed to aid the children in a speedy recovery.

The hospital was opened in 2015 for the families of Wales and since then, it has treated thousands of children. It is the only children’s hospital where children can leave their beds and play freely with each other, rather than getting bored. Before the playground was constructed, there was nowhere in the hospital where young patients could play outside of their wards.

The design of the garden follows a jungle-inspired theme, with a huge spray-painted mural and real palm trees. During the evenings, the garden is lit by colourful LED lights. Children can enjoy slides, swings and a playhouse, among many other activities.

The Noah’s Ark Garden was built to be a place where children can forget about everything else and just enjoy themselves. The therapy zone is another important part of the garden. It’s used to provide physiotherapy to children outside in the fresh air, with the hope that they’ll feel more at ease.

Jo Clements, a senior nurse from the hospital staff, commented that “It’s got a lovely vibe. Some of the elements are for rehab and physio – different surfaces, different sensory components”.

A five-year-old patient, Neve, was also asked about the playground. She commented “I really like it… there’s lots and lots of stuff here”. A few weeks ago, Neve was admitted to the hospital because she lost the control of the left part of her body. She was examined and diagnosed with an inflammation of the brain called Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, which was the reason for her paralysis.

Neve receives daily therapy from the hospital staff to help her to regain the complete control of the left side of her body. Neve uses the garden to practice her walking and to practice operating her wheelchair so that she can enjoy herself outdoors with the other children.

Natalie Gragasin, a physiotherapist at the hospital, said the garden makes therapy to look like play for the children, which is why they enjoy it. When children are at the hospital, they are often away from their family and siblings for long period of time, so the garden is a great place for children to make friends and enjoy each other’s company.

Bethan Simmonds of the Noah’s Ark charity added that “At the end of the day this is a children’s hospital and children have a right to be children whatever they’re going through”.


The Wimbledon Foundation, the charity arm of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, has awarded grants totalling £55,000 to 12 different charities and community organisations in the local area. It’s hoped that the grants will help to meet social needs in the London Boroughs of Merton and Wandsworth; two communities which are annually impacted by the championships.

The Wimbledon Foundation’s Community Fund distributes a total of £100,000 every year to local organisations that help to tackle a range of social problems and work to reduce inequalities in the two boroughs. As well as benefitting the local community, the grants are a recognition of the help given by the two communities in staging The Championships.

This is now the sixth round of funding to date and grants of up to £5,000 are available to projects supporting a wide variety of issues such as mental health and wellbeing, poverty and isolation.

One of the successful applicants is KIDS Lady Allen Adventure Playground, located in Battersea. The organisation has been serving the community for over 45 years, and their playground provides a safe haven for children with disabilities. The children can come and play freely with their friends in a setting that supports their specific needs and requirements.

The grant received by the Wimbledon Foundation will help a higher number of children to access the service on a more frequent basis. It’s being used to provide transport for the most isolated and disadvantaged children in the area so that they can get to and from the playground regularly, providing their parents with a short break from their care duties.

The Trusts and Foundation Manager at KIDS, Michael Koudounas believes that the funding will have a huge impact on the lives of children at the centre. He commented that “the grant is allowing 40 disabled children and young people from low-income families to come to the playground and have the opportunity to play and learn, to build friendships and to increase their sense of independence”.

Another charity who benefitted from the Wimbledon Foundation was Glass Door, an organisation who support homeless people by providing them with advice and support as well as accommodation. Because of the grant, Glass Door were able to operate a shelter for the homeless in Wandsworth every night over the Christmas fortnight; the time of year when the effects of homelessness hit hardest.

Glass Door’s Chief Operating Officer, Dr Steven Platts, said that “We are so grateful to the Wimbledon Foundation for recognising the need for life-saving shelter for the increasing number of homeless people in London. The grant meant we could bring people in from the harsh, cold streets and offer them a hot meal and safe place to sleep”.

Grants of up to £5000 also allowed for the Katherine Low Settlement to run an English language programme for 20 adults from refugee families. The Wimbledon Civic Theatre Trust also received a grant to put on an arts-based course for 8 schools in Merton in order to raise awareness of mental health issues amongst pupils.

Helen Parker is the Wimbledon Foundation and Community Officer. She commented that “Our Community Fund enables us to make a valuable contribution to tackling social problems and reducing inequalities in both boroughs. Over the last two years, we have supported a wide-range of projects and we look forward to funding more excellent projects that make a difference to the lives of local people”.

This is the truly heart-warming story of how the Tamworth community came together for young Charlie Round. The two year old trooper has been in and out of hospital for some time. This prompted children’s charity Simon’s Heroes, together with local tradesmen to step in and offer him and his family some much needed support. The charity reached out to local businesses to help them build a playground for Charlie and his sister Olivia at their family home.

In June last year Charlie was diagnosed with neuroblastoma – an aggressive form of cancer. This has meant that the youngster has had go through numerous chemotherapy treatments, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and surgery. All of this has taken its toll on both Charlie and his family. They have relied on the support of family and friends to help get them through this difficult time. Now Simon’s Heroes have taken up the cause, helping to brighten the little boy’s life.

They approached an online builder’s community, On the Tools that helps building contractors around the UK to connect – asking for help from tradesmen who might be willing to help build a playground for Charlie. They needed people who could lay down artificial turf and set up playground equipment in the family’s garden. A post was added to the On the Tools Facebook page and the response was incredible. Within two days of launching the social media campaign, the work was completed.

Dan Warner, director of DW Landscapes and Groundwork in Leicester stepped up to the challenge. Not only did he offer to pay for the materials himself, but together with one of his employees laid the artificial turf within two days. Another local businessman, Heath Elliot of Element Leisure in Wilnecote answered the call by donating the play equipment, which members of Simon’s Heroes helped to assemble.
In addition to the play equipment, the charity also gave the family tickets to Harry Potter World and arranged for Charlie’s favourite TV character, Barney the purple dinosaur to visit him in hospital. The efforts that the charity and local businesses have gone to have gone a long way to bring some light and joy to the family in what has been a very difficult time for them.

In November Charlie underwent surgery to remove the primary tumour. Since then things have been looking up for the brave young trooper. Subsequent chemotherapy has removed the remaining tumours. Since this treatment his condition has been classified as NED – no evidence of disease. However this is not the end of the road for Charlie’s treatment. He still has to go through another course of intense chemotherapy and stem cell therapy over the course of the next four to eight weeks.

With the help of his doctors and the love of his family, Charlie stands a good chance of enjoying a normal life. The heart-warming way in which Simon’s Heroes and the local community has reached out to this family in their time of need is touching and has brought tremendous joy to Charlie and his family. We can all surely commend what they have done.