OLIVIA Francey knows the Sick Kids hospital very well, too well perhaps for her parents’ liking.
The accident-prone past of the 13-year-old has seen her in and out of the Marchmont hospital to repair a variety of fractures – and one incident with a yoghurt pot – over the years.
It’s not surprising then that she has become something of a celebrity on the wards, until you realise it is for her anonymous social media campaigning rather than her daredevil antics.
For Olivia has been revealed as the creator behind an extraordinarily successful Facebook page in support of the Sick Kids, a page so professional staff were stunned when they learned the age of their mystery supporter.
Bosses at the hospital now plan to merge the schoolgirl’s page, which has 6500 “likes”, with the official Sick Kids Facebook page, which has half as many, by the end of the month.
The Boroughmuir High School pupil, who lives in Shandon, admits she is stunned by how popular the site has become since she decided to set it up to give families and children a cyber meeting place to share their experiences.
Olivia, who has a younger sister, Rosa McLachlan, three, says: “I think the staff at the hospital are brilliant. I got taken in really quickly each time I went and the staff were so friendly and nice.
“I wanted to see if there was a Facebook page for the hospital that I could ‘like’ but I couldn’t find one, so I decided I would make one for other people to ‘like’.”
The youngster has been updating the page with details of fundraisers mentioned on the main Sick Kids website, as well as adding posts encouraging people to “like” and “share” the page.
Olivia’s first visit to the hospital came when she was just a year old and was followed by an elbow fracture, two wrist breaks and a few bruised ribs.
Her mum, Jenni McLachlan, 32, recalls the first incident: “Olivia got a bit of a yoghurt pot stuck in her throat when she was a baby. She kept making a funny noise when she was trying to clear her throat. A shard of plastic had fallen into the pot.”
Olivia’s next trip to the Sick Kids came when she was nine after an accident during her PE class at Craiglockhart Primary School.
“We were running outside on concrete and I got knocked over and landed on my left elbow,” Olivia explains.
“I fractured my elbow; I knew right away it was something really bad. Then when I was at my dance class after school, doing the warm-up, someone accidentally tripped me up and I pressed my hand against the wall too hard, and broke my right wrist. I was ten at the time.
“When I was 11, I broke my left wrist. I was on my swing and I tried to jump off. A thread from my top got caught round the bottom of the swing when I was jumping and I fell and pushed my hand into the ground.”
She adds: “The last time I was in the Sick Kids was after I walked along the top of a wall in the back garden and I fell on to the fence, which pressed really hard in the middle of my ribs. I used to be a daredevil but not as much anymore. Going to high school means I’m busy after school now instead of going into the back garden!”
In February 2011, around five months after Olivia’s last visit to the Sick Kids, she decided to create the social media profile to boost the hospital’s support. She was contacted by the Sick Kids around December last year after they spotted her Facebook page and asked if she would like to merge it with their own one.
Her mum says: “Her comments on the page are quite adult-like, they were so surprised when they realised she was a child.
“She gets quite a lot of messages from parents who have had children in the Sick Kids. She got a message recently from a parent who had lost a child. She sounds really grown up in her replies and I think that people are assuming she’s an adult.
“I think the page is great. She has quite good ideas and just goes off and does them. I’m really proud of her for getting so many ‘likes’ and spreading the word about this charity.
“She created this page by herself and has built it up from nothing.”
Olivia, who despite her frequent visits to the hospital has never stayed overnight, adds: “I think it’s just amazing how many ‘likes’ the page has got. I thought maybe at most it would get 300. I didn’t think so many people would notice it enough to get 6500 ‘likes’.”
The number of “likes” has increased by more than 2000 over the last fortnight, due to Olivia adding posts which ask people to “share” and “like” the page.
Olivia, who also has her own Facebook page, set the Sick Kids page up by herself in around 30 minutes.
“I think it’s a really good idea to merge the pages so the Sick Kids can post information that I wouldn’t know about. I’ll still be able to add to the page as well.”
Rachel McKenzie, community fundraising manager at the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, says: “We launched the official Sick Kids Friends Foundation Facebook page some time ago and recently became aware of Olivia’s incredible page and mass of followers. What Olivia has achieved all by herself is phenomenal and she should be very proud.
“We asked Olivia how she would feel about merging her page with our page to create one official Sick Kids Friends Foundation page dedicated to all of our activities and news, and we were delighted when she agreed to work with us. We are very grateful to Olivia for all her hard work and would like to say a special thank you to her and her family. We look forward to growing the page even more in the future and we hope that we can do as good a job as Olivia has.”
Olivia hopes to be a nurse at a children’s hospital or a primary school teacher when she leaves school.
“The nurses at the Sick Kids cheer people up and I want to be able to do that,” she says.
The official Sick Kids Facebook page, which has more than 3000 “likes”, can be visited at www. facebook.com/EdinburghSickKids.
Olivia’s page is at www.facebook.com/pages/The-Sick-Kids-Hospital-Edinburgh/183225361712629.
The two pages will merge before the end of the month.