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Artists join forces to bring wildlife to children’s hospice

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 11, 2014

By Tony Langford

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An imaginative project to encourage wildlife into the grounds of a children’s hospice and enrich the lives of patients and families has been launched in Cornwall.

The brainchild of wildlife painter, Ian “Griff” Griffiths, A Robin’s Song is being established at Little Harbour in Porthpean, near St Austell. Griff lives in Helston with his wife Lizzie and their children, 11-year-old Alice and nine-year-old Thomas, who has a life-limiting illness that involves frequent visits to Little Harbour.

“We have benefited greatly from the wonderful facilities, care and support on offer,” said Griff.

However, an idea to create something that would add enjoyment and a focus to the children and their families began forming in his mind. Observation is a key part of Griff’s craft and he noticed that wildlife was abundant around the perimeter of the hospice but very little in the grounds or near the building.

“As a full-time wildlife artist, I know the life-enhancing benefits and pleasure that the natural world can bring to people of all ages, especially children,” he said. “The song of a robin or the sight of butterflies amongst wild flowers can do so much.”

Griff’s initial thought was to provide bird feeders and to fund this by selling black-and-white drawings. However, when other artists heard of the plan they offered to come on board and the project snowballed. More than 300 artworks, including original paintings, prints and sculpture, were donated by wildlife artists from around the world. Daniel Cole and Karen Laurence-Rowe were among those donating work. An auction, sale and raffle netted £7,000 to pay for a wildflower meadow, wild garden, bird feeders and nest boxes.

The work will be undertaken under the watchful eye and expertise of Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Should sufficient funds be raised, long-term projects could include a wildlife viewing hide, an orchard and raised pond with a glass front to enable children receiving care and their families to observe life under the surface.

Little Harbour is run by Children’s Hospice South West. As with its other two hospices – Little Bridge House in North Devon and Charlton Farm in North Somerset – it offers bedrooms for individual children, accommodation for parents and siblings and a homely family kitchen and living room. It has a range of play and therapy facilities, including a multi-sensory room and jacuzzi.

A spokesman for Little Harbour management said: “We provide a loving and caring place for every member of every family who stays with us. It is a sanctuary for mums and dads, brothers and sisters, a place where they can begin to forget their worries for a while, be a family again and find expert support in facing an uncertain future.”

For further information visit arobinssong.co.uk

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