The Mayor of Barnet donned Wellington boots as he turned the first sod at the site of a “wonderful” new children’s hospice.

Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice has been awarded a 125-year lease to help revive the Barnet Environmental Centre, in Byng Road.

The site will also feature a new building which will be used as a hospice, giving sick children and their families respite, support and care.

Mayor Councillor Hugh Rayner was among guests at a ceremony to mark the start of work on Saturday, January 24.

Cllr Rayner said: “The charity provides such vital support to many children and families in the local area, it’s such a worthwhile cause. I wish them every success with the build.”

Cllr Rayner was joined by Michael McInery, Noahs Ark chairman of trustees, and Phil and Jan Hulme from the Hadley Trust.

Ru Watkins, chief executive of Noahs Ark, said: “This is key to unlocking our development of the hospice. We know there are many more children and families in north London that need our support.

“It’s been a nail biting process, securing funding and gaining planning approval and this new building will be a fantastic facilities for the many school children who visit the centre, as well as the local community who will come to enjoy the reserve.

“This is part of what we do in reaching out and supporting the community.”

The construction of the new centre is expected to be finished by June.

Speaking after the ceremony, volunteer Jayne Clarke, 52, of Winchmore Hill, said: “I’ve been volunteering doing admin work at the hospice for three years.

“This is a much needed centre. The support the charity can offer the families is amazing, they reach out to us. These facilities will be great once they are built.”