MORE than 1,000 people have signed a petition backing the campaign to urge the Assembly to provide £5.9 million in funding for the South Gwent Children's Centre.

The petition, organised through the Sparkle Appeal office, was started just three weeks ago ahead of a planned meeting of the Assembly's Capital Investment Board, which scrutinises funding bids for major NHS schemes.

That meeting did not go ahead and a decision on funding for the centre is not expected until late in October.

But petition organisers hope in the meantime to attract many more people to put pen to paper to support the case.

"This is a great start but we need to keep people signing up, to show those who will be making the funding decision how much the centre is needed and the level of support for it," said Sparkle Appeal fundraising manager Helen Lloyd.

"It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give these children a centre where they can be helped to meet their full potential."

The centre, at High Cross, Newport, will provide a world class environment designed to meet the therapeutic needs of more than 1,200 disabled youngsters from Newport, Torfaen and south Monmouthshire.

Its under-one-roof ethos is designed to replace the current situation, with disabled youngsters and their parents often having to visit for their ongoing treatments clinics - such as that at Eveswell in Newport - that are cramped, inflexible and generally unsuitable for delivering the quality of healthcare expected in the 21st Century.

Around £370,000 has been raised for the project by the Sparkle Appeal since it was launched almost four years ago, but Assembly funding would enable the project to become a reality.

Petition forms are available from the Sparkle Appeal office, Old Ingram Ward, St Woolos Hospital, Stow Hill, Newport, NP20 5SZ, telephone 01633 656212, e-mail A letter on the issue to health minister Edwina Hart is also available from readers to download from this website.