NEW plans for a £9m purpose-built house for parents to stay near their sick children in hospital have been unveiled.

Ronald McDonald House Charities revealed plans today for a 62-bedroom house to provide “priceless” accommodation for parents with seriously ill children at the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

The L-shaped block will be built on the John Radcliffe site so that parents wanting to be near their children can stay on site during their illnesses.

Currently the charity has 17 rooms on the top floor of the children’s hospital which can cater for about 40 people, but the new building will provide 200 more beds for worried and stressed families.

Andy Boon and his wife Alice, from Milton, near Didcot, stayed at the current Ronald McDonald House on and off for five months when their new-born son needed regular heart surgery.

Archie Boon was born with a congenital heart defect in November 2008, and had his first operation at only five days old.

Mr Boon, now a father-of-three, discovered that when Archie was in surgery and the children’s intensive care unit (ICU), it was impossible for him and his wife to be with him all the time.

But just when the couple were considering booking a hotel or B&B, or commuting the 56-mile round trip from their home and back, they were shown to Ronald McDonald House.

Mr Boon said: “It was a massive world of pain for us. We really were clueless.”

The 42-year-old admitted that the pair of them burst into tears at being offered the accommodation. They welcomed the new plans which will allow the charity to offer that support to more parents.

He said: “You cannot put a price on that facility. I really don’t think we would have coped without that.

“It’s truly one of the most amazing charities I have come across. It’s an absolute lifesaver.”

The unveiling of the plans marks the ninth anniversary since the charity opened its original accommodation at the Headington hospital in 2007.

The charity hopes to build the new house with 62 bedrooms, each with twin beds with pull out single beds underneath to sleep four people, as well as ensuite toilets, baths and showers.

It will increase the number of beds available from about 40 to 288 if it is granted planning permission by Oxford City Council.

The building is planned to go on the tennis courts behind Sandfield Road, opposite the Sandfield Day Nursery.

Head of operations at Ronald McDonald House Charities, Anne Ward said the current facilities were already oversubscribed.

She added: “The 17 bedrooms we do have we could fill twice every night and that’s not taking into account families with babies in newborn intensive care who we have not been helping at all.”

The charity has already helped more than 5,000 families coming through the doors of the John Radcliffe, with one family staying as long as 15 months.

Ms Ward said keeping the family together was vital when a child was sick and added: “All the child wants when they are poorly is for mum and dad to be close by. The house provides some normality and daily routine.”

The planning application is expected to be submitted later this year, but it will not be built until the charity raises the £9m it needs to finish it.

The plans and staff from the charity and OUH will be on hand between 10am and 1pm today on level two of the Children’s Hospital.

To donate send a cheque made out to Ronald McDonald House Charities to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, 11-59 High Road, East Finchley, London, N2 8AW.

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