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Wednesday, 29 August, 2001, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Botham walks for children's hospital
Ian Botham
Botham on final leg of walk from John O'Groats
Cricket legend Ian Botham has thrown his weight behind a scheme to raise money for Wales's first children's hospital.

The seasoned charity walker has said he will help raise 250,000 for the appeal by trekking from Machynlleth, the ancient capital of Wales, to the modern capital, Cardiff.

The Noah's Ark appeal has set out to raise 5m to build the first phase of a paediatric care centre in Cardiff which will cost 21m.

Now I am used to the idea of putting on my walking boots again I am delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile project

Ian Botham

The appeal which was launched last year has so far raised 2.75m.

Support from Botham - who is known for walking from Land's End to John O'Groats to raise money for charity - has been welcomed as a great boost.

He said that he could not turn down the opportunity to promote such a worthy cause.

"When the Trustees of the Noah's Ark Appeal came up with the crazy idea for another charity walk, my heart rather took over my head - or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say my feet," he added.

"But now I am used to the idea of putting on my walking boots again I am delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile project".

Charlotte Church
Charlotte Church has already backed the appeal

The 229-mile walk in April 2002 will be broken up into nine stages.

Major events and campaigns will raise money prior to the walk with presentations being made to Botham and his team before they set off on each leg.

The hospital appeal already boasts some high profile support.

Cardiff-born child star Charlotte Church is among those who have helped promote the fund-raising for the unit.

But the biggest donor so far has been the Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, which has provided the site and infrastructure for the new building.

The Welsh Assembly has also pledged to provide a further 4.5m once the appeal has reached its initial target of 5m.

First phase

The first phase of the hospital will comprise the main entrance, child-friendly reception areas and two wards, each of 25 beds, specifically designed for children.

The building will also include the shell of a third children's ward and this will be commissioned in the second part of the initial phase of construction.

Wales is one of very few countries in Europe that does not have a hospital specialising in the treatment of sick children.

It is hoped the new 50-bed unit would provide facilities specifically for children and their families.

The ultimate aim is to build a complete hospital which will replace existing facilities at UHW which staff and relatives of patients claim are unsatisfactory.

BBC Wales's Penny Roberts reports
"He is planning to weave the Botham magic in Wales"
BBC Wales's Laura Jones reports
"The new hospital will cost 21 million pounds to build"
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