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Tribute to Kathy Secker, founder of Grace House North East

17 May 2016

On Saturday 14th May, close friends, family and colleagues paid tribute to Kathy Secker, founder of Sunderland charity Grace House North East, who passed away in December 2015.

Grace House provides care to children from all over the North East with complex disabilities, health needs and life limiting conditions. The charity, which was established by Kathy in 2003, is based in Southwick, Sunderland, and provides care to children with complex disabilities, health needs and life limiting conditions.  Run in partnership with Sunderland Care and Support, Grace House provides a home from home where children and young people can come and stay overnight and enjoy the exciting  ‘sleep-over’ experience that many disabled children miss out on.  This gives family members an opportunity to have a rest and recharge their batteries, safe in the knowledge that their disabled child is safe, happy and well looked after.

Kathy’s sudden death in December 2015 happened just months before Grace House completed a successful Ofsted inspection, allowing Kathy’s dream to finally be realised. 

Dr. Karen Parry, chief executive at Grace House North East, said: “Everyone at Grace House was shocked and saddened by Kathy’s death. Most of the team had worked with her for 10 years, and were devastated to learn of the news. When we successfully completed the Ofsted registration process in March this year, allowing us to provide overnight care in addition to the day activities we had been running, we couldn’t help feeling sad that Kathy had missed seeing the final piece of her dream become reality. It is important for us, at this momentous time in our history, to stop and remember that without Kathy, none of this would be possible.”

The team who had worked for so long with Kathy at Grace House decided that there should be a permanent dedication to her within the building to recognise her achievement. David Cook, Chairman of the Grace House Board of Trustees said “We wanted to ensure that in ten, twenty or fifty years’  time, that everyone visiting Grace House knew where it’s roots lay and who was the driving force behind it. By inscribing Kathy’s words on the wall of Grace House reception, we have a permanent reminder of her vision and passion.”

Gentoo, who worked closely with Kathy to build Grace House have marked their respect and admiration for her, by planting a magnolia tree in the grounds at Grace House. This will now be tended by the Grace House garden volunteers, who are a small group of local people who volunteer regularly to ensure that the gardens at Grace House bring enjoyment and stimulation to the disabled children that come to stay.

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