A HAMPSHIRE acting couple have kicked-off the second phase of funding for a new emergency and trauma department in Southampton.

James Murray and Sarah Parish, who live near Alresford, visited Southampton Children’s Hospital yesterday (Feb 23) to meet patients and staff at the start of the second half of fundraising after the appeal passed the £1 million milestone.

The campaign is being led by the couple’s charity, The Murray Parish Trust, set up in memory of their daughter Ella-Jayne, who died in 2009 due to a congenital heart defect.

Southampton Children’s Hospital Charity, which is part of Southampton Hospital Charity, is also helping to lead the appeal.

As previously reported, the facility will treat around 30,000 youngsters every year from across the south, and will include on-hand x-ray facilities and 11 cubicles, as well as a new eight-bed observation area.

James said: “We have had a momentous year of fundraising and can’t thank our supporters enough for helping us reach this significant point.

“It is all down to their commitment and dedication and we hope all of our supporters and many more people across the region will now join with us as we push on for the next million.”

Sarah added: “The treatment provided is world-class across many specialities, including emergency medicine, though the facilities in the current children’s department are not in line with the expert care that is delivered there.

“We want to ensure it can offer the best environment to meet the demands of the future.”

Jeneen Thomsen, head of major gifts at the hospital charity, said: “Through our partnership with the trust, we have raised more than £1 million in less than a year, which is an amazing feat and we are so grateful to everyone who has been part of that journey.

“The demands on the emergency department and paediatric assessment unit grow every year and this new build will ensure a smoother system in a fitting environment which will improve the delivery of care and the overall experience for young patients and their families.

“Whether it is through individual of group fundraising, corporate support or even by spreading the world on social media, every bit of support makes a huge difference.”