Children’s charity appeals for help after beach hut demolition warning

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Momentum Children's Charity
Daisy Wood (left) with her mum and sister at the Momentum Children’s Charity beach hut at Hordle Cliff, Milford

A CHARITY for sick children has launched an urgent appeal for a new beach hut in Milford after being warned its current structure is facing demolition.

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Momentum Children’s Charity uses the hut for young patients to enjoy seaside trips but has been told by New Forest District Council that the hut it bought in 2015 at Hordle Cliff is at risk from erosion and storm damage.

As reported in the A&T, 20 owners were ordered by NFDC in February to demolish their beach huts after erosion swept the shingle from underneath them.

A spokesperson for Momentum said: “We have been told by the district council that ours will be the very next hut to go.

“We have not been told to demolish it yet but they have warned us that even a small amount of rain or a storm could be the end. We are devastated.”

Since acquiring the beach hut, the London-based charity says it has been used by more than 250 families with seriously ill children. The organisation also owns two holiday cabins at Shorefield Country Park in Milford.

Momentum founder and CEO Bianca Effemey said: “We purchased the beach hut when we recognised that very sick children struggled to enjoy the beach without a safe place to rest, and it breaks my heart thinking we will lose something that offers children a place to sit and enjoy the beach.

“I just hope we can find a solution quickly, before our busy summer period.”

The charity enable families with children undergoing cancer treatment to visit the coast and spend precious time together.

Helen Lewis, whose daughter Ciara was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in April 2016, has used the beach hut several times in the last three years.

She said: “I, like other parents who are supported by Momentum Children’s Charity, would feel desperately sad if there is no beach hut for other families to enjoy.

“This is a place where memories are made for families – happy times amid a sea of treatment and hospital admissions.

“Many families don’t know if it will be their last holiday with their child. Some families return to the hut to grieve, remember and celebrate their child’s life. We, fortunately, have not lost our child. However, it does hold an almost spiritual existence to us as a family.

“It’s where we experienced most of the extreme emotions during her treatment: fear, hope and happiness.”

Alistair Wood and his family also visited the hut after his daughter Daisy was diagnosed with cancer in 2016.

He said: “If it weren’t for the beach hut we wouldn’t have been able to spend the entire afternoon on the beach, as we would not have had the shelter from the weather.

“It is very sad knowing that other families might not be able to enjoy the freedom and release that the hut provides.”

The charity says its facilities are vital because families can book and use them at no cost and cancel their bookings at the last minute if they need to. It is now asking anyone who can help find a similar hut on higher ground at Hordle Cliffs to get in touch.

Ms Effemey continued: “The beach hut has created so many memories for hundreds of families and they are devastated.  Within the beach hut, there are pebbles that have been decorated by children who have visited and it just shows how precious it is to so many.”

NFDC says beach hut owners have never been given any assurances about the long-term viability of their structures.

Speaking at the time of the demolition order in February, a spokesperson said: “The undertaking of coast protection work at this location would not be viable due to the environmental constraints, lack of funding and the management policy for this section of coastline.

“Any interim work to provide protection to the huts would purely be a short-term measure and not could not be economically justified.”

To help Momentum Children’s Charity, email bianca@momentum.org or call 020 8974 5931.

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