THE Sick Kids Friends Foundation celebrated 20 years of vital fundraising late last year and yesterday honoured some of the people who have made it all possible.
The Sick Kids Heroes awards yesterday was a glittering event held at the Caledonian Hotel, with 150 supporters, patients and members of staff turning out to show their gratitude for the SKFF’s hard work.
Since it was founded on December 7, 1992, the charity has smashed targets and raised a staggering £18 million to fund research, state-of-the-art equipment, several staff posts to support families of patients, and its unique Drop In Centre, which will celebrate its eighth birthday this year. In the last decade alone, SKFF has raised £14m.
Chief executive Maureen Harrison said: “To reach 20 years of fundraising was a truly wonderful celebration for us and to have so many inspiring patients, supporters and members of staff join us for the Sick Kids Heroes awards yesterday was just magnificent.
“We could not have achieved this milestone without these people.”
Over the past 20 years, the charity has made an enormous difference to the experience of children and families at the hospital. Its work is all about innovation, support and working alongside – but independent of – NHS Lothian to ensure that vital funds donated by the public are well used to supplement care for vulnerable young
patients now and in the future.
Highlights of the charity’s investments include money to establish a Children’s Clinical Research Facility and the hospital’s highly innovative sat nav for neurosurgeons.
Within the past 12 months alone, the Foundation has funded equipment including new ultrasound machines worth £94,000, a new children’s play area within the Princess Alexandra Eye Pavilion, a £36,000 heart scanner for infants and children, paid for music therapy classes, provided an artist in residence programme for patients – with author Linda Cracknell and illustrator Cate James – and funded the UK’s first ever hospital-based changing faces practitioner at the Sick Kids hospital.
The Changing Faces programme, which helps children with a wide range of conditions including congenital and traumatic disfigurements, was a ground-breaking move for SKFF. The Foundation wanted to increase the level of resources in Scotland, leading to appointment of Orla Duncan.
To celebrate the fantastic achievements of everyone who has been involved with SKFF over the years, the Sick Kids Heroes awards was created.
Supported by the Evening News since the awards were launched in March, the Foundation was
inundated by nominations for heroes across all seven categories: a patient who has filled us with admiration, a team who always go the extra mile, a member of hospital staff who has made the ultimate difference, a company whose fundraising for Sick Kids has been beyond expectations, a Sick Kids supporter whose efforts have been amazing, a young Sick Kids fundraiser whose success has inspired us all and a Royal Hospital for Sick Children volunteer whose time given to sick kids has touched our hearts.
More than 3000 votes were cast to decide yesterday’s winners in some very closely fought categories.
Award sponsors included Lothian Buses, Beattie Communications, Edinburgh Airport and Franklin Templeton. Our Dynamic Earth and The Real Mary King’s Close also provided free passes for all the children who picked up awards yesterday.
Bebe’s the Darling of Ward 2
ONCOLOGY nurse Bebe Darling has spent more than 35 years caring for children in Ward 2 at the Sick Kids.
Known as “Granny Bebe” to her young patients, the 61-year-old from Bonnybridge was yesterday voted as the member of staff who makes the ultimate difference at the Sick Kids.
Bebe works night shift at the hospital and has spent countless hours reading books to sick children and calming them down when they are trying to sleep.
She said: “I always think things are worse at night, when it’s dark and the children are waking up. They just need somebody to reassure them.”
On winning her award, Bebe said: “It’s a real honour to be here today to accept this award and it’s something that I want to share with all my fellow nurses and doctors at the hospital.
“It’s our job to care for the children and make them feel as comfortable and at home as possible when they are in hospital. Without a great team, we wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Those who nominated Bebe describe her as a person who always goes out of her way to make sure the children are in good spirits and she regularly fusses over them.
One said: “She is always there for the parents, making up camp beds at night, sitting and listening to us when we need to talk, hugs us when we cry and does her best to cheer everyone up.
“She also helps organise Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve round the wards in the hospital. If you ask any parent or child on Ward 2 who their favourite nurse is, they will all say Bebe. She goes that extra mile to make everyone feel better.”
Runners-up in the category were Tom Marshall, Linda Buchanan and Thanos Tsirikos.
Hannah’s giving something back
MANY of the sick children who receive treatment at the hospital show their gratitude by supporting the charity throughout adulthood.
University student Hannah Gray, 21, was one of those courageous children who spent much of her childhood recovering under the supervision and expertise of the doctors, nurses and specialist staff on Ward 1.
Now Hannah plays an instrumental role in the Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) to help plan for the new hospital. Hannah’s experiences as a patient enable her to ensure the new hospital provides the best facilities and care for children and young people in years to come.
At yesterday’s ceremony, Hannah’s dedication and hard work was recognised when she was presented with an award for a Royal Hospital for Sick Children volunteer whose time given to Sick Kids has touched our hearts.
Throughout her five-year term as chair of the group, Hannah has attended meetings to input into concept designs, participating on the interview panel for arts consultation positions and consulting on adolescent facilities.
But it hasn’t always been so easy for her. Aged just eight, Hannah was diagnosed with Raynaud’s and systemic sclerosis scleroderma – a chronic auto-immune disease.
Systemic sclerosis scleroderma is an autoimmune or connective tissue disease. It is characterised by thickening of the skin caused by accumulation of collagen, and by injuries to the smallest arteries.
Between the ages of 11 and 18, Hannah was a regular in the hospital, attending sessions of inpatient infusions.
Although unable to attend the awards, due to sitting her final exams for her degree, Hannah was really pleased.
She said: “For me, this award is recognition for all the efforts of all the Young People’s Advisory Group.
“All of the members are young people, we have all been patients, we have often been ill. We may be young but we do understand the needs of young people in a hospital environment.”
Hannah’s parents, Anita Pate and Michael Gray, collected her award on her behalf.
Brave Anna captures the imagination
YOUNG Anna Pentony has overcome countless obstacles in her short life and was awarded yesterday for her bravery after she captured the hearts of the people of Edinburgh.
The ten-year-old, from Davidson’s Mains, was one of the stars of the show at yesterday’s Sick Kids Heroes awards, walking away with the prize for patient who has filled us with admiration, after a landslide of votes from the public.
Anna could barely contain her joy as she was presented with her award.
She said: “This is one of the most exciting things that has happened to me. I’m so glad to be here today with my mum and dad. I owe so much to the doctors and nurses at the Sick Kids hospital, and to everyone I have met over the years there.
“Thank you so much for voting for me.”
Anna was diagnosed with spina bifida at birth, which left her paralysed from the waist down, but her parents were dealt a further blow when she was just three years old, after doctors discovered Anna was suffering from a rare condition called congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS).
The condition caused severe neurological trauma to Anna’s brain stem, preventing her nerve signals from telling her body to breathe. Following her diagnosis, doctors were concerned she wouldn’t make it through the night, however she underwent emergency brain surgery which saved her life.
Anna now has to sleep with a ventilator at night which reminds her body to breathe, but mum Alison said her daughter’s physical setbacks haven’t stopped her from enjoying life.
She said: “Anna is an inspiration to all – she’s very outgoing and always has a smile on her face. We’re so proud of her for winning this award.”
Chantelle’s still smiling after 20 ops
A BIG-hearted seven-year-old was presented with a prestigious accolade at the Sick Kids Heroes awards yesterday after warming the hearts of the public.
Chantelle Cummings, who has braved 20 operations during her short lifetime, was delighted to receive the award
in the patient who filled us with
admiration category from the charity as part of its two-decade landmark celebrations.
Chantelle, from Longstone, said: “I’m so excited to win this award and I’ve had a lovely day.”
The youngster has been a regular face at the Sick Kids hospital since she was diagnosed with Chiari malformation, sixth nerve palsy and intracranial hypertension aged just three.
Needing constant medical support throughout her illness, Chantelle has gone through a high volume of
operations, including two major brain surgeries when she was only two years ago.
Living with a condition that pushes the lower part of her brain towards her spinal cord hasn’t stopped the seven-year-old from smiling, though.
Chantelle’s mum, Charlene, is so proud of her young daughter that she has tackled numerous fundraising efforts for the charity in a bid to help it continue its influential work.
She said: “We’re delighted to see Chantelle win this award. Chantelle has been so brave each time she has had an operation over the past seven years.
“She is truly inspirational in the way she bounces back and she has an enormous thirst for life. We’re so happy to see her receive this recognition, it’s a great achievement.”
Chantelle was presented with her award and passes to Our Dynamic Earth and The Real Mary King’s Close by Evening News deputy editor Euan McGrory, and Sally Egan, NHS Lothian’s children’s commissioner.
The other nominees in the category were Aine McDermott, Joy Kennedy, Lauren Bremner and Noah Duncan.
Alex deserves brush with fame
ALEXANDER Muir has spent more than a decade visiting the Sick Kids as a patient.
The kind-hearted 15-year-old did such a good job showing his gratitude for the hospital over the past couple of years that he earned himself the title of Young SKFF Fundraiser at yesterday’s Sick Kids Heroes awards.
The Musselburgh teenager has been battling a brain tumour since he was five years old, regularly attending the Sick Kids for chemotherapy. At just ten years old Alex suffered a stroke during an operation, which left him unable to walk or use the right side of his body.
Wheelchair-bound Alex’s eyesight, speech and memory were also badly affected and he spent the next 11 months in hospital.
He said the Sick Kids had become his second home and wanted to give something back to it so learned to use his left hand to paint a series of canvases that were made into Christmas cards in 2011, raising £1000 for the SKFF.
Of his award, which was sponsored by Edinbugh Airport, Alex said: “I’m so happy to have won this award – the nurses and doctors at the Sick Kids hospital have done so much for me over the years and I’m just delighted to have been able to do something to repay them for their kindness and care.”
His mum, Eira, said: “Since Alex has been home, he’s had intense physio to learn to stand and bear weight on his right side again. We’re hoping that maybe one day he’ll be able to take a couple of steps.
“We are so proud of everything he has achieved and it’s just been a delight to see him pick up his award today. It makes it even more special that it was voted for by members of the public.”
Runners-up were Dylan Thomas and Callum McLennan.
Boy with the big art
ARTISTIC schoolboy Jack Henderson was given a Special Recognition Award by the SKFF to show its gratitude for the outstanding contribution he has made through tireless fundraising.
Eight-year-old Jack has raised more than £40,000 for the charity which has funded art activities, beds for parents with children receiving treatment on the wards and a host of other projects.
Prestonpans-born Jack has since moved to California with his family so was unable to collect his award yesterday.
However, the Evening News managed to contact him.
He said: “It’s very good that I have been given this award, I am very happy, thank you very much to the Sick Kids Friends Foundation.”
The Jack Draws Anything Campaign kicked off when Jack’s brother, Noah, fell ill and became a frequent visitor to the hospital.
The youngster offered to draw anything anyone
requested of him in exchange for donations to SKFF. Such was the demand for his pictures, Jack created his website with the help of his dad, Ed, and people flocked worldwide to donate to the fund.
Jack received donations from as far afield as Brazil and Australia.
Rachel McKenzie, community fundraising manager at the SKFF, said: “Jack is such a generous, talented little boy and I’m delighted to see him receive a Special Recognition Award.”
Tom’s always gone the extra mile
WAR veteran Tom Gilzean is an Edinburgh landmark. Every day, come rain or shine, the Second World War hero collects money for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation on the Royal Mile.
Dressed in full Highland regalia, Tom has captured the hearts of locals and tourists alike as he shakes his can for charity.
Earlier this year he was honoured with a British Empire Medal, and yesterday was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the SKFF.
Celebrating his 93rd birthday tomorrow, Tom has been out collecting for the Foundation for more than five years – raising a staggering £70,000 along the way.
Of his award, Tom said: “What an honour it is to be here today and accept this award from such a wonderful charity.
“I started fundraising for the Sick Kids about five years ago after a friend asked me to get involved and I have never looked back. I don’t do it for the credit, I do it because the Foundation is a wonderful charity that does incredible work for the hospital, the children and their parents.
“I’m so proud to play a small part in it.”
Evening News readers were recently left incensed after hearing that Tom’s motorised wheelchair had been damaged and have since offered donations to help him get back out and about.
SKFF chief executive
Maureen Harrison said: “Tom is an incredibly kind, generous and determined man. Day after day he has donned his full regalia and headed up to the Royal Mile, and now sometimes to Princes Street, to collect from the public to help Sick Kids.
“He is known as the ‘Laird O’ the Mile’, with a licence to collect, and neither ill health nor bad weather deter him, despite our best efforts to look after him! He is an inspiration to us all.”
Plenty to like about Olivia
YOUNG Olivia Francey was voted the Sick Kids Friends Foundation’s Top Supporter at yesterday’s Sick Kids Heroes awards.
The 13-year-old whiz kid walked away with the accolade after she created a social media profile to boost support for the Foundation and the Sick Kids hospital.
In just 12 months, Olivia, from Shandon, generated more than 4000 likes for the Facebook page she created in support of the Sick Kids. It was her aim to give families and sick children receiving treatment at the hospital a cyber meeting place to share their
Olivia’s work impressed staff at the Foundation so much they requested to merge her supporter page with their official SKFF profile.
On winning her award yesterday, Olivia said: “Thank you so much for voting for me, I’m so happy to win this award and I want to thank everyone for supporting the Facebook page I
created for the Sick Kids. I have been treated so well by all the nurses and doctors at the hospital every time I have been a patient there and it’s great to be able to support them in this way.”
Mum Jenni McLachlan said: “I am really proud of Olivia. She
created this page by herself and built it up from nothing. In just a year she amassed 4000 likes.
“She received such fantastic treatment at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and was delighted with the friendly manner of the staff and how quickly and efficiently she received treatment.
“I’m just so delighted for her to win this award. She is a great girl and really deserves the credit.”
As Olivia’s Facebook page became more established, she created content to engage and motivate followers. She would upload witty posts and promote fundraising events taking place around the city and further afield. The page now has more than 6500 followers.
Other nominees were Tom Freeman and Jamie Laing.
Every little helps for Sick Kids
TESCO Bank clinched the award for the company whose fundraising for Sick Kids has been beyond expectations.
The Edinburgh office was nominated following its tireless fundraising efforts resulting in more than £40,000 of donations – double its initial target.
The effort saw 1400 kind-hearted employees focus on raising money throughout a year-long campaign in 2012.
The team took part in a host of activities including raffles, bake sales, dress-down days and a cycle and hiking challenge through the Scottish Borders.
Suzanne Rea represented the Tesco Bank community investment team to collect the award.
She said: “It is with great honour I receive this award on behalf of all of the staff who took part in our company-wide fundraising drive.
“As it’s is a local charity, there is a very strong connection with the Sick Kids and our colleagues were keen to get involved. Many of our staff has first-hand experience of the hospital, so it means a lot to help the charity help other families going through similar experiences.”
The category was sponsored by PR firm Beattie Communications and director Chris Gilmour was delighted to present Suzanne with the award.
He said: “I was delighted to be able to present this award to Tesco Bank following such a successful fundraising year.
“Corporate supporters are fundamental to the phenomenal sums of sponsorship the Sick Kids Friends Foundation rake in each year and we encourage companies continue to support the charity through these philanthropic endeavours.”
The runners-up included The Real Mary King’s Close, Royal College of Surgeons, Apex Hotels, Sainsbury’s Bank, Johnson & Johnson medical, Atos, Tesco Bank, Structured Real Estate Team and Lloyd’s Banking Group.
Congratulations to every one of our winners
Chief executive, Sick Kids Friends Foundation
I was delighted to host the Sick Kids Friends Foundation’s Heroes awards, to mark our pivotal 20th anniversary.
We were privileged to receive so many deserved nominations for patients, teams, companies and
fundraisers whose stories have been immersed in bravery, endurance and courage.
It was so important for us to give back and recognise everyone who has influenced, supported and worked with us throughout the past two decades to make the hospital the wonderful, life-saving establishment it is, and known as throughout the country.
Congratulations to every one of our winners who we honoured with awards yesterday. The atmosphere was truly electric throughout the entire ceremony at the Caledonian Hotel where we celebrated our newly crowned Sick Kids Heroes.
I would also like to thank and congratulate all of our runners-up whose stories were amongst some of the most touching we have heard.
People from Edinburgh, Lothians and further afield took to our voting lines in their masses, racking up more than 3000 votes during two weeks of public voting and 75 nominations were received over our seven categories. It was very gratifying to see all of our worthy nominees get the recognition they deserved.
I would also like to thank all of our gracious panellists who were tasked with the very difficult job of deliberating over the results, and to our sponsors, Lothian Buses, Franklin Templeton, Beattie Communications and Edinburgh Airport.