A former first lady was the guest of honour as construction begins on a new children's hospice.

Samantha Cameron, wife of former prime minister David Cameron, attended the ground-breaking ceremony of The Ark, a children's hospice for babies and children with life-threatening and limiting conditions.

Noah's Ark Children's Hospice, the charity behind the hospice, is also calling for donations as £2million is still needed for the project.

Mrs Cameron spent the morning with children who have been affected by life-changing illnesses, and reflected on her own experiences with her son Ivan.

She said: "When my son Ivan died we were devastated, and we will always remain so. It’s something no parent should have to go through.

"The Ark will provide a peaceful place in which to take care of children and their families as they face death, but it will also be an environment for children, their siblings and parents to enjoy life and make magical memories together."

Once built, The Ark will provide 24-hour end of life and bereavement care, overnight facilities for parents and sensory, music and art rooms, all set in a 7.5 acre nature reserve in Barnet.

Rose Charles’s grandson Ben had a rare genetic condition and tragically died in 2014, and now Ms Charles continues to care for Ben’s sister Sophie, aged 11, who has the same diagnosis.

She said: "We need to provide a comforting, familiar and dignified place for families, especially when they are going through that final transition.

"End-of-life care and overnight stays are so vital to families like ours, but sadly Noah’s Ark wasn’t able to provide them for Ben. My hope is that the new hospice building will be there in time for Sophie."

Noah's Ark Children's Hospice has launched the "Building the Ark" campaign to raise the vital funds they need to complete The Ark, which includes asking the public to give an hour's worth of their salary to the project.

More details on how to give can be found on the charity's website.