Samantha Cameron laughed with children and got to know their doting parents when she visited Sussex this morning (Tuesday July 28).
The wife of Prime Minister David Cameron was visiting Hop, Skip and Jump, a new care centre for disabled children, based in Horsham town centre.
It struck a chord with Mrs Cameron, whose son Ivan was severely disabled and died in 2009.
She said: “I have personal experience of the horrible struggle of attempting to do the weekly shop while caring for a disabled child and of trying to change nappies on the floor of a public toilet while out and about.
“I would have loved to have found such a supportive centre, where my child could be cared for while I carried out the everyday chores that other families take for granted.
“This very special centre, the second of its kind in the country, offers children with special needs and their families, a safe haven in the heart of the town.
“I passionately support Hop, Skip and Jump’s commitment to help families cope with the challenges a disabled child brings, and fully back their amazing vision to offer ‘Care in the High Street’ facilities to families right across the country.
“I applaud the owners of Swan Walk Shopping Centre and Horsham District Council for their support of the charity and hope that similar partnerships can take place elsewhere.”
The new care centre offers a safe, fun environment for children and short respite for their parents.
Beaming Horsham mums Samantha Buck and Natalie Gazey, who met Mrs Cameron while visiting 10 Downing Street last year, were delighted to see her again.
Mrs Buck said: “It was basically Samantha saying that when she had her son Ivan, she did what we do.
“She kneeled on a toilet floor changing his continence pad. She said she would have loved to have used a facility like this as a short respite.
“When we went to Downing Street it was still very much at an early stage of discussion to make it a reality, with quite a hard slog ahead of us.”
Hop, Skip and Jump, which opened in Swan Walk Shopping Centre this month, offers short respite to parents by caring for and entertaining their children.
A hygienic facility in the town centre has been a long-term ambition for Mrs Buck and Ms Gazey, whose sons Alfie Buck and Laurence Biegstraaten are both severely disabled.
Mrs Buck said: “It is an amazing feeling. It is what we wanted it and we got it.
Ms Gazey added: “It gives you a breathing space. This is for when you have a night when you have one and a half hours’ sleep because your child has been screaming and crying.
“You know they are going to have loads of fun, and you can sit and have a coffee and give yourself some head space.
“It is treating us like we don’t have that disability to think about.”
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