THE last 18 months have seen an empty field transformed into a light, bright and peaceful building offering a welcoming, homely space tailored to the children's and families every need.

Acorns Children's Hospice will offer much-needed respite, emergency and terminal care and a community team, also based at the hospice, will provide 24-hour emotional and support for families at home.

Acorns also provides special support for siblings, parents and the extended family as well as bereavement counselling.

The hospice has been designed to make the young people who use the facility feel as comfortable as possible - from wheelchair height sinks to the intelligent door system.

Each of the 10 bedrooms is specially equipped and has a glass door leading to landscaped gardens - big enough to push the high-tech electric beds outside on a summer's day.

Every time a child comes to stay at the hospice, staff will change the bedroom to include bedding, pictures and posters individual to each child to create a home-from-home environment.

There is an adolescents' wing, where teenagers have their own bedrooms, a lounge complete with large screen TV, stereo and games systems, a kitchen area and a barbecue area in the garden, giving them some space away from younger children as well as privacy and independence.

The hospice has its own hydrotherapy pool, an essential tool in unlocking the potential of many disabled children as well as a multi-sensory room and whirlpool/spa to help the children and young people and their parents unwind.

Upstairs are two family bedrooms, living room and kitchen so parents can stay knowing that their child is receiving wonderful nursing expertise nearby.

Other features include a lounge, dining room, hobbies room and music room, with activities for different age groups.

Outside an acre of interactive gardens provides lots of opportunities for play and socialising, including a Caribbean-themed garden complete with its own desert island; a sun, moon and stars garden for imaginative play; and a paddock for resident donkey Dotty.

There is also a memorial garden with its own stream.

Other special facilities include two special bedrooms where bereaved families can spend time with their child before the funeral.

More than 40 highly-experienced nursing and care staff work at the hospice alongside a team of 100 volunteers, who will help out with everything from ironing to hoovering, gardening to befriending the children.