'Acorns is the most amazing place': Isabella Lyttle's family in shock at Walsall closure

The family of Isabella Lyttle say they are “absolutely heartbroken” by the proposal to close Acorns in the Black Country.

Isabella Lyttle and mum Jennie at Acorns. The family today paid tribute to the hospice and its staff for their remarkable commitment and support.
Isabella Lyttle and mum Jennie at Acorns. The family today paid tribute to the hospice and its staff for their remarkable commitment and support.

The schoolgirl from Walsall died on April 28 at the age of 11 after an eight-year battle with cancer.

She had been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer, when she was just three years old.

During her illness she visited the Acorns Children’s Hospice in Walsall for short breaks.

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It has now been earmarked for closure because of rising running costs and a drop in donations for short breaks.

At Acorns, Isabella was cared for by a range of specially-trained nurses and volunteers and her family said it soon became a second home to her.

The team ensured her medical needs were met as well as giving lots of opportunities for fun and stimulation in a home-from-home environment.

Her father Mark Lyttle said the news that the hospice in Walstead Road could cease offering care from the end of September was “absolutely devastating” and had come as a “massive shock”.

“Isabella and so many other children massively benefited and still do from the most amazing place you could ever ask for,” he said.

The family have been raising money for Acorns in their daughter’s memory and on their JustGiving page wrote about why the hospice was so important to them.

Mark said: “Our beautiful, courageous and fearless little girl always had a smile on her face despite what she went through.

“A big part of the reason for that smile was Acorns in Walsall. It was a place that Isabella loved to visit when she was well enough to be out of hospital and quickly became a second home to her.

“This is because of the wonderful building and what’s inside and more importantly the incredible and heart-warming staff and volunteers that make Acorns what it is, a safe haven full of joy and laughter and love.

“Their support over the years to Isabella and to us as parents has just been incredible and without them at this time we just don’t know what we’d have done.”

Isabella Lyttle

Last year Isabella and mum Jennie recorded a special thank you video message for staff and volunteers is part Acorns 30th Anniversary celebrations.

“The impact on us if there was no Acorns would be significant,” said Jennie in the video.

Also reeling from the news is Charlotte Edie, from Walsall, whose daughter Kimora Edie, aged three, spent her final two weeks at Acorns last October before she died from neuroblastoma.

She said the hospice had played an important part in their lives and provided a lot of support.

She added: “I was really shocked and it just brought images to my mind of when Kimora passed away.

“They have a special room where the child can stay until the funeral, instead of going to a funeral home. This thing alone, having your child stay at Acorns, really helps.

“Parents can stay there even after the child has passed away. I have always been grateful to them for being able to do that.”

“It is really sad. There is not anything else like that in Walsall.

“The hospital told us about Acorns and that rather than passing away in a hospital she could go to a more relaxed environment. They put me in touch with the funeral directors. It’s hard to think about those things so they helped with that.

“Nothing can ever take away the pain of what happened but they did really help.

“It makes a massive difference. Without that the other option is staying in hospital with all the nurses in uniforms and the machines. Children can feel at home,” she said.

Charlotte said she felt “sad” that the hospice may close its doors for good at the end of September adding that she believed more Government funding should be available.

“As soon as I read the news I thought is there anything that can be done – any fundraising?

“Some children are not well enough to travel to another area. It needs to be somewhere near.

“It’s a service that is needed. So many children are going through this.

“This service is just as important as receiving the care.

“There definitely should be funding from the Government.”

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