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Family’s high praise for CHAS as Rachel House reaches milestone anniversary

Keith, Ava and Fiona Young at Rachel House
Keith, Ava and Fiona Young at Rachel House

The family of a teenager who receives care from Rachel House in Kinross has offered high praise as the hospice celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Run by charity Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS), Rachel House, which opened in March 1996, offers support to children with life shortening conditions and their families.

Ava Young, 13, has been supported by staff at Rachel House for 11 years and also receives specialist care from the CHAS at Home team.

‘Favourite place’

The teenager – who lives in Penicuik, near Edinburgh – has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy and scoliosis curvature of the spine.

Her parents, Fiona and Keith Young, say Rachel House is their daughter’s “favourite place” and praised the help they have given the family.

Fiona said: “It’s definitely her favourite place in the whole world and we know this as she always starts squealing with joy in the car when we get near it.

“It’s a special place for all three of us because we have been going there for over a decade and every time we visit we are made to feel like family.

“I still remember the first time we went – we were quite nervous because the word ‘hospice’ makes you think it might be a sad place but we couldn’t have been more wrong.

“It was light and bright and joyful, and everyone was so welcoming and friendly that we didn’t want to leave.”

Renewed wedding vows

The Young family feel a connection so strong to Rachel House that Fiona and Keith renewed their wedding vows there on Valentine’s Day in 2019.

Fiona added: “The nurses helped to dress Ava in her flower girl dress and decorated everything to look like a wedding room.

“CHAS staff made lovely canapés for us and played the piano while the chaplain at the time conducted the ceremony –the whole day was really special.”

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Ava and her family have been unable to visit Rachel House since October 2020 but have been enjoying the virtual hospice services.

They have remained hugely grateful for the continued support from CHAS.

Fiona said: “We would like to say congratulations to everyone at Rachel House for reaching such a special milestone and we will always be grateful to all the staff for the invaluable care they have given to our family and countless others over the last 25 years.

“We know CHAS is always there for us and just at the other end of the phone, and we look forward to visiting again one day soon.”

Hundreds of families

Now in its 25th year, Rachel House has supported hundreds of children and their families from all over Scotland.

The success of the facility led to CHAS opening Robin House in Balloch, Dumbartonshire in 2005.

The charity’s Director for Children and Families Sue Hogg has worked at Rachel House since its opening day.

She said: “I feel very privileged to have been part of CHAS from the very beginning and to have met so many lovely and inspirational families like Ava’s.

“I love my job just as much today as I did then.”

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