Children’s charities launch SEA LIFE Sensory Room for young patients

A brand new SEA LIFE themed Sensory Room has been opened for young patients at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital (the Alex) in Brighton, thanks to the help of two children’s charities.SEA LIFE themed Sensory Room at the Alex

Local children’s charity Rockinghorse teamed up with worldwide children’s charity Merlin’s Magic Wand to make the Sensory Room a reality for thousands of youngsters who require the services of the Alex. The room, which is located within the play area on level 10 of the Alex, is the first official SEA LIFE themed sensory space of its kind in the UK. Young patient Maxwell Smith was invited along with his family to officially open the room earlier this week (Tuesday 19 January).

Ryan Heal (Rockinghorse) Sandra Hazel (Merlin) Maxwell Smith, mum Emma, Max (Sealife) Maxwell's nurse, dad Peter
Ryan Heal (Rockinghorse) Sandra Hazel (Merlin) Maxwell Smith, mum Emma, Max (Sealife) Maxwell’s nurse, dad Peter

Maxwell, aged four, from Storrington in West Sussex, was diagnosed with Mitochondrial disease at nine months old which means he needs continuous medical support. This rare disease is a group of disorders caused by dysfunctional mitochondria that take on unique characteristics in each individual. Having access to the new Sensory Room will be hugely beneficial to patients such as Maxwell, providing a calm, comforting and therapeutic space. Find out more about Maxwell’s story by visiting

The unique Sensory Room is fitted with specialist equipment such as a bubble screen, interactive lighting and an effects projector, which all help to create an under-the-sea multi-sensory experience for young patients, to use as both a learning and therapeutic area. Katy Weaver, a Play Team Specialist at the Alex, says:

“We are so delighted with our amazing new sensory room. Our old one had served us well but was looking very tired and sadly not working as well as it used to. We now have an interactive, multi-sensory sea themed room which has cleverly allowed more floor space to make this room much more accessible to our patients. The space can be enjoyed by patients and their families and it will enable them to relax in a completely non-clinical environment – the perfect way to escape temporarily even if they are not well enough to leave the hospital. A huge thank you to everyone that made this possible, it will make a massive difference to many patients and their families.” 

Merlin’s Magic Wand is a worldwide charity for children, arranging magical days out at Merlin Entertainments attractions, such as LEGOLAND Resorts, SEA LIFE Centres and Madame Tussauds. It is thanks to funding from Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, SEA LIFE Brighton and Merlin’s Magic Wand that the Sensory Room project has been possible. Max Leviston, General Manager of SEA LIFE Brighton, commented:

Max Leviston (Sealife) with Ryan Heal & Analiese Doctrove (Rockinghorse)
Max Leviston (Sealife) with Ryan Heal & Analiese Doctrove (Rockinghorse)

“The whole SEA LIFE Brighton team is absolutely delighted to see the new sensory room unveiled at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital. Our staff have been involved throughout the process – from fundraising to putting forward ideas to the designer – so it is great to see all their hard work come to fruition. By working with Merlin’s Magic Wand, Rockinghorse Children’s Charity and, of course, our visitors, we have been able to create a room which I hope will provide much needed respite for the hospital’s patients for many years to come.”

As the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Rockinghorse raises money for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment, whilst also ensuring that children are treated in an environment better suited to their needs. Ryan Heal, Chief Executive of Rockinghorse Children’s Charity, added:

“The new sensory room at the Alex is the first of its kind anywhere in the UK, this is something we are incredibly proud of and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Merlin’s Magic Wand and SEA LIFE Brighton. Our supporters have played such a huge part in making this happen, especially Al Fresco restaurant, who donated so much towards the project. The greatest beneficiaries are of course the children who will be able to use the space – very often the children with the most complex needs within the hospital. The positive impact the room will have on their stay in hospital will be huge and long-standing for many years to come.”

Katy Weaver (the Alex) Emma, Peter and Maxwell Smith, Max Leviston (Sealife) Ryan Heal (Rockinghorse, Sandra Hazel (Merlin) & Amy Farmer (the Alex)
Katy Weaver (the Alex) Emma, Peter and Maxwell Smith, Max Leviston (Sealife) Ryan Heal (Rockinghorse, Sandra Hazel (Merlin) & Amy Farmer (the Alex)