For the latest position on the Children's Hospital bid and other associated developments, go to the "Making Leeds Better" website: www.makingleedsbetter.org.uk
Hearing the news that the Government had approved an initial £204 million bid for a new children's and maternity hospital was a great moment.
I was honoured to be personally invited by Woman of the Year Jane Tomlinson (who works as a paediatric radiographer at St James's on top of her fantastic fundraising efforts) and parent campaigner Carol Maddocks to celebrate our success with them.
I have supported the campaign for a number of years, and in 2003 tabled an Early Day Motion in the Commons urging Government backing. More recently, I co-ordinated lobbying of Ministers and briefings to West Yorkshire MPs to get their backing for the bid. As a result, I was able to present Ministers with a letter signed by 23 MPs showing the support across West Yorkshire and beyond.
At the moment the recognised clinical excellence of the specialist services provided in Leeds are compromised by the fact that children and their families often have to trail between scattered sites, inadequate buildings, and sometimes have to be treated in adult wards and facilities.
The new hospital will provide state of the art medical facilities for children and families coping with the most serious illnesses facing young people in the West Yorkshire region.
As a parent, it is exactly what I would want for the children and families of West Yorkshire who are fighting battles against some of the cruellest and most devastating medical conditions.
It is a triumph for the parents, professionals, people and politicians of Leeds and West Yorkshire that our teamwork has produced such a persuasive bid for this much-needed facility.
I must admit to some nervousness as the decision day arrived. We had already had the new Wharfedale Hospital and £200 million for the renewal of cancer services in the city. So there was a fear that some might feel we had had our fair share. But the quality of the bid and the lobbying behind it has won the day.