Three years ago, friends of a patient at Holy Cross Hospital launched a fundraising appeal to build a wheelchair accessible treehouse so that patients could experience and enjoy the hospital’s woodland setting.

Following some epic fundraising feats which included a walk in the Antarctic Circle, a cycle ride from Greenwich to Portugal, a row along the Thames from Oxford to London and some very generous donations, the dream has been realised.

On Wednesday 11 August, guests gathered for the official opening of the treehouse by the High Sheriff of Surrey, Dr Julie Llewelyn.

Dr Karin Englehart, who chairs the hospital’s Advisory Committee, welcomed guests and explained how the treehouse aims to provide a peaceful and tranquil space where patients can be at one with nature. She told how it was a patient’s former love of outdoor pursuits that inspired his friends to begin the journey towards making the viewing platform a reality.

Dr Englehart thanked the patient’s friends and expressed her gratitude to the Friends of Holy Cross Hospital, the Daughters of the Cross for being the principal funder of the project, the National Lottery Community Fund and all other donors whose contributions were greatly appreciated. These include the Surrey Community Foundation and the Haslemere Challice Community Fund. Dr Englehart then invited the High Sheriff to cut the ribbon and declare the treehouse open.

Dr Llewelyn who is an NHS doctor described Holy Cross as a ‘magnificent facility’. She said: “I rarely see facilities as good as this. The patients are obviously extremely well looked after. It is always the people who work in an institution that make a difference and Holy Cross has some superstars.”

She added: “I have never seen such a good treehouse and I am sure it will be used by many. May this be a very happy treehouse.”

She then proceeded to cut the ribbon and the patient who sparked the idea for the treehouse was invited to be the first to enter the platform.

The treehouse has been designed to last for decades and provides a straightforward access from the main hospital. It is built of steel, oak, non-slip decking and specially strengthened glass. It is large enough to be used by a number of patients at the same time.

Holy Cross Hospital provides a homely environment for 40 patients with severe neurological disability and long-term conditions. The hospital aims to challenge the limits of extreme neurological disability and has built a reputation for being a centre of excellence.