WORKS to improve a children’s hospice near Winchester have now begun following a successful fundraising appeal.

Naomi House and jacksplace, near Sutton Scotney, welcomed builders, plumbers and electricians to begin the £4m construction works which will see the site transformed.

Patron of the Caterpillar Appeal, Alistair Stewart, and chairman David Holmes welcomed Kevin Hayter, director of Romsey firm Reside Construction, to the site which provides care for children with life-limiting conditions.

The keys to the centre were passed over in a brief ceremony before the renovation works – the first in the charity’s 17-year-history – began.

Deputy chief executive Mark Smith said: “Today marks a major milestone in the history of Naomi House and we are delighted that major building work can now begin on site. We are particularly pleased to have been able to appoint a local firm, Reside Construction, to undertake the work and look forward to seeing the first children and families enjoying our brand new hospice in less than a year.

“Of course we could not have reached this stage without the support of individuals, groups and businesses across Hampshire but we still need more help to reach our target of £4m to complete the project.”

The centres’ bedrooms will be made larger, by approximately a third, and oxygen will be piped into rooms for the first time. There will also be a messy play area, arts and crafts and a new bereavement area for families.

There will also be a new kitchen and dining area and a bridge joining the centres as well as a spiritual and multi-faith area.

It is hoped the work will be completed within the next year, ready for use next summer.