A facility in Killadeas which cared for sick children with life limiting illnesses and cost £1.2 million is to be sold less than four years after it opened.

Services at the Children’s Hospice were suspended in late 2016 due to a lack of specially trained nursing staff before permanently closing exactly one year ago.

In correspondence to staff, which has been seen by The Impartial Reporter, a spokesperson for Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice said it had “formally announced its intention to place its facility Horizon West in County Fermanagh on the open market.”

The correspondence continued: “The Board of Trustees at Northern Ireland Hospice has reaffirmed the organisation’s continued commitment to children with life limiting and life threatening conditions in the Western region through the enhanced availability of respite breaks at ‘Horizon House’, and through continued Hospice Community services in Fermanagh.”

An ambitious fundraising appeal to set up the facility was launched in 2009 and in spite of the worst recession in decades, people power and the generosity of the local public in Fermanagh made the vision of Horizon West a reality.

In a statement, which has also been seen by this newspaper, Margaret Butler, Chairwoman of the NI Hospice Board of Trustees said: “I would like to take this opportunity to express deep gratitude to the local community for its significant support for Northern Ireland Hospice and for the generosity and time given by so many volunteers and fundraisers. I hope that our continued commitment to providing palliative care to local infants, children and indeed adults in Fermanagh, represents a fitting legacy for those who worked so hard in developing Horizon West and that together we can continue to deliver this vital care right across Northern Ireland, to those in need.”

In the same correspondence Chief Nursing Officer Professor Charlotte McArdle added: “The Department of Health recognises that Northern Ireland Hospice has done everything in their power to keep the facility open and understands the impact the closure will have on families. We will continue to work with NI Hospice to ensure that appropriate care is provided and we have made available additional funding to assist with the provision of an additional bed at the Children’s Hospice in Belfast.

In a statement Fermanagh-south Tyrone MLA Arlene Foster told this newspaper: “I have visited the New Horizon premises on numerous occasions and seen at first hand the valuable role they were playing in the lives of patients and their families. It is with disappointed that recent developments have brought an end to this vital service.

"Considerable effort was made to establish and sustain the facility over the years. I am calling for the intervention of the Western Trust to seek a resolution so that the premises and assets can be used to support our local community," she said.

In 2015 the Duke of Kent officially opened the facility where he met with local families, children and staff and heard how their work was making a positive difference to the lives of families and local children living with a life limiting condition.

Seeing first hand the impact of donations and hospice care, the Duke interacted with children in the multi-sensory room, met families using the accommodation and shared some special moments in the art room with staff and children creating a piece of art. The creative piece, made of clay, including the word ‘Solace’ – a contribution of the Duke that was to be placed in the garden as a memento of the official opening.