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Singleton Hospital in Swansea pays tribute to charity champ Irene James

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: April 11, 2014

  • Hospital volunteer Irene James. Inset, senior paediatric physiotherapist Kate Greenfield, left, and consultant neonatologist Dr Jean Matthes in the sensory room.

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THE memory of a much-loved charity champion who died three years ago is to live on at Singleton Hospital.

Irene James raised more than £300,000 for worthy causes over the years and campaigned to keep services — especially those for children — in Swansea.

Now, to commemorate her tireless devotion, part of the £1.9 million new Hafan y Môr children's centre at Singleton is being named in Irene's honour.

Equipment for the centre's sensory room, now named Irene's Room, is being paid for out of a fund set up in 2000 to which Irene made the largest single contribution.

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Singleton Hospital-based consultant neonatologist Dr Jean Matthes said: "When the money was first raised the idea was for it to be used for a children's centre.

"Various sites were considered over the years, but what we have now ended up with is an absolutely stunning children's centre in Singleton and children's wards in Morriston.

"So the decision was made to share the money between them."

The fund reached more than £82,000 and included donations from doctors, members of the public and others. Former Lord Mayor of Swansea John Davies gave £17,500 raised during his year of office.

But the biggest single contribution came from Irene, who donated £32,500.

Dr Matthes said: "I spoke to Irene's family about how we proposed to spend the money — half on the sensory room and the rest on the children's wards in Morriston — and they were in full agreement.

"Every year the sensory room will provide stimulation and therapy for around 400 Swansea children with a wide range of conditions including autism and cerebral palsy.

"In Morriston we are going to buy software for children with diabetes to help monitor their treatment.

"We will also buy some special blankets for babies with jaundice, as well as other equipment for the children's outpatients department when that opens later this year."

Irene, from Pontarddulais, passed away in 2011, a few months after her 70th birthday.

Her daughter Shirley James said: "My mother would be absolutely over the moon with the way this money is being spent.

"She would also be really touched the sensory room is being named after her. We are too as a family.

"It's a shame she cannot be here to see it but I know she would feel absolutely honoured."


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