A determined family and their friends took on the Spinnaker Tower abseil in Portsmouth and raised over £5,072 for The Sick Children’s Trust – a charity which supported them with free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation when their daughter was seriously ill.
Julie Mitchell, from Burgess Hill, and three of her children were joined by six friends to take on the 100 metre challenge in Portsmouth to say thank you to The Sick Children’s Trust for supporting their family when their daughter Rebecca was being treated in hospital.
In 2003, Julie’s ten-year-old daughter Rebecca was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London. She received three months of specialist treatment after becoming seriously ill with pneumonia and septicaemia. During this three months, as Rebecca fought for her life, her family were supported at Guilford Street House, one of the charity’s free ‘Homes from Home’, located just a few minutes from GOSH. Mum Julie says:
“The worst thing ever was being told we needed to say our goodbyes. How did it come to this, our loving, caring and beautiful girl becoming so fragile? We couldn’t believe we were being told it might be the last time we’d see her. Rebecca was at GOSH for around three months. For the first few nights, I slept on a chair outside her room - she was so ill that we couldn’t even sleep on the ward with her.
“Then someone approached us with some absolutely amazing news, we’d been given a room at Guilford Street House, run by The Sick Children’s Trust, and this meant we had someone to stay minutes from Rebecca’s bedside. The positive impact it has on you at that time is indescribable. To have somewhere you can go to get away from the hospital, where your other children can go, where you can talk to people and share your story. You need it so much.
“It really was our ‘Home from Home’. I only went back to our family home once during the whole time Rebecca was in hospital. Guilford Street House gave my partner Nick and I a break from the hospital ward, without meaning we had to make the four hour round trip home, and it meant we had somewhere for our other children to come and stay at the weekends too. We were able to sit with them and have a normal family meal and even pop to the park. But the most important thing was that we were all there for Rebecca, which made a huge difference to her recovery.”
Julie, her children and their friends took on their daring challenge to fundraise for the charity and celebrate Rebecca becoming a mum to a baby boy called Oscar in September 2015. Julie adds:
“It was a bit windy on the day of the abseil. I was pacing about until it was our turn and decided to go first in our group. Although I was scared and didn’t want to let go of the guide, when I did, it didn’t feel so bad, but it was pretty lonely up there. I couldn’t hear anything until I was about three quarters of the way down and then could hear the cheering. It was such a relief to get to the bottom!”
The Sick Children’s Trust runs ten ‘Homes from Home’ across the country and supports around 4,000 families with free accommodation, just minutes from their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside. Guilford Street House Manager, Tina Thake, says:
“This was a huge challenge for Julie and her friends to take on and we are delighted they successfully completed the abseil down the Spinnaker Tower. The continued support we receive from Julie and her family means so much to us, We always love hearing how families get on after we’ve supported them at Guilford Street House and were thrilled to find out Rebecca had become a mummy.
“We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in the challenge to fundraise for The Sick Children’s Trust. Although we provide free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation to families with seriously ill children in hospital, it costs the charity £30 to support a family for one night. So we really appreciate Julie and friends choosing to fundraise for us, it will make a huge difference to the families we support.”
If you would like to support Julie and her family, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Julie-Mitchell21.