BY SIMON GALOWELL
• -TWO CHILDREN'S hospices run by a pro-life charity have been denied a share of a £15.3 million National Lottery pay out for palliative care.
Zoe's Place in West Derby, Liverpool, and Zoe's No. 2 in Middlesbrough, run by the LIFE charity, were the only children's hospices from 25 nationwide to be denied a grant by the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) on Wednesday.
The remaining 23 have received awards averaging £620,000 — even though they generally each contained about six beds, the same as Zoe's Places.
An NOF spokeswoman said that the applications were refused because Zoe's Places cared only for terminally-ill children up to the age of five years, and not for all ages.
She said: "Because we have a finite amount of money, we have to have criteria. Basically, they didn't meet the agreed criteria in terms of age limits." The announcement was greeted with "utter dismay" by the Zoe's Place trustees, nurses and the patients' families.
Ann Johnson, manager of Zoe's Place in Liverpool, said: "We are truly disappointed by the decision of the NOF' not to give us any help. Some £48 million of Lottery money was given to it for providing palliative care of children — the bulk for home-based care, the rest for hospices.
"We asked for £270,000 for Liverpool over three years and £600,0000 for the new Zoe's Place about to open in Middlesbrough."
Mark Guidery, the general manager of Zoe's No. 2, said: "I'm not just dismayed, I'm really angry.
"The NOF has apparently not grasped that we are pioneering a new form of hospice care.
"Children's hospices, with perhaps boisterous teenagers wanting their kind of games and music, are often not a suitable environment for, very sick infants. Zoe's Places are baby hospices. They are different.
He added: "1 really believe that we have been the victim of ideological prejudice. There will be a lot of people in both the North East and North West who will he disgusted by this news. because Zoe's Places have aroused much public support.
"There has been a decline recently in National Lottery income because of awards to questionable causes. The news that Lottery money has been refused outright to helping very sick babies and their parents will not do much to restore confidence.
"We urge people to switch to the Big Chance Lottery which is bringing in a lot of funds for Zoe's in Liverpool and soon Middlesbrough."
The National Lottery has been criticised for making "politically correct" awards, including helping to "stage a lesbian and gay pantomime", helping "farmers in Peru breed meatier guinea pigs" and funding a group fighting the deportation of illegal immigrants.