ENGLAND football manager Gareth Southgate has been at a 'lifeline' centre in Yorkshire today lending his support to a major appeal.

Gareth was at specialist children’s hospice Martin House in Boston Spa to launch its largest fundraising appeal to date. He has been involved with the charity for nearly 20 years after his wife Alison began fundraising through the Glitter Ball for Martin House.

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"I started to get a real understanding of the incredible work that is done here and the value to families in our region. I have been fortunate to see first-hand not only the impact on the children who come here but their families, their siblings. You talk to families and think 'that could have been us'," he said.

"I have sat in on counselling sessions with families who have lost a child and they wanted to talk about their children which is amazing - the work that happens here, I cannot speak highly enough of it. 

"What's here has been amazing but it did need modernising and they will be able to future proof it and put in new facilities like hydrotherapy that will have a huge positive effect."

York Press: Gareth speaking at the hospiceGareth speaking at the hospice (Image: KG Photography/Kevin Gibson)

The hospice provides specialist palliative care to children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses.

Their  £21.9 million project called The Build is set to be complete by September next year and will enable them to continue to support children, young people and their families for many years to come.

They are urging the public to donate towards their £2 million target by its September 2025 deadline.

York Press: Martin House at Boston SpaMartin House at Boston Spa

The plans have been created in collaboration with the families using the hospice, including the children themselves, to ensure their needs are front and centre of the project.

Gareth said: “The hospice is a lifeline for local families, and it really does transform the lives of young people with life-limiting illnesses every single day.

“The Build project shows Martin House’s ongoing commitment to challenging, improving and investing in family-led care. These improvements will strengthen the hospice’s existing services and guarantee its future, helping to enrich the experience for the entire family.”

York Press: The cause is close to Gareth's heartThe cause is close to Gareth's heart (Image: KG Photography/Kevin Gibson)

The Build will consist of two phases, the first being a children's wing and the second comprising a teenager’s wing and wellbeing centre. 

Clair Holdsworth, chief executive at Martin House, said: “We need to create a space that is purpose-built and fully accessible with a more flexible offering, to ensure that more families can access the vital care and support on offer, and we need the public’s help to achieve this.”

York Press: Gareth in his day jobGareth in his day job

Bethany and Jack Harrison, parents of Thomas, three, who uses Martin House, said: “Martin House is a lifeline to us, we don’t know what we’d do without it. But we are looking forward to all the new facilities the Build will bring. We’ve never been able to take Thomas swimming because it would be too much to manage in a normal pool, so we can’t wait for him to experience the new hydrotherapy pool, as he loves water.

“Thomas also needs oxygen at night, and currently we have to get bottles delivered to Martin House – having piped oxygen in his bedroom will make a huge difference to our stays.”

Martin House is set to launch several fundraising events for the public to support The Build, in partnership with Haribo. Sign up to be a supporter, donate here: www.martinhouse.org.uk/thebuild       

York Press: Gareth speaking to the audienceGareth speaking to the audience (Image: KG Photography/Kevin Gibson)