Make it Better Day: Fundraising for Sheffield Children’s Hospital

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  • by Rachel Parry

Friday is Make it Better Day – 24 hours of fundraising to extend and improve services at the city’s Children’s Hospital. The Star’s Rachel Parry reports.

It’s every parents’ worst nightmare – being told their poorly child may not survive surgery but will most certainly die without it.

This was the heart-wrenching situation faced by Phil and Josee Shaw when hospital staff gave their daughter Sarah just a 20 per cent chance of survival after she contracted a rare bone infection.

Sarah, now aged 14, was admitted to Sheffield Children’s Hospital when she was seven-years-old after experiencing a painful aching in her arm and a high temperature.

The youngster, from Beauchief, Sheffield, was found to have osteomyelitis, an infection deep inside the bone, and due to a delay in diagnosis her condition quickly deteriorated.

Dad Phil said: “We had taken Sarah to see a doctor a number of times during the week but they put the pain down to some sort of injury.

“At the point when we just couldn’t get her temperature down we went to see another doctor who linked all Sarah’s symptoms together, diagnosed her with osteomyelitis and immediately admitted her to hospital.

“Doctors told us that she may have to have her arm amputated and that it was a potentially life-threatening condition.

“She was immediately put on a high dose of antibiotics and it was decided surgery, to remove the bulk of the infection and allow the drugs a better chance to work, was the best way forward.”

The surgery was scheduled for Monday morning but Sarah’s condition quickly worsened as she developed septicaemia which spread infection to other parts of her body.

Mum Josee said: “On the Sunday her temperature was getting higher and higher and you could see a physical change in her as the infection spread and her organs started to fail.

“One particular nurse, Jill Ashton, stayed by Sarah’s side all day, even after her shift. She spoke to doctors and stressed how serious Sarah’s condition was becoming and that she needed surgery that evening.

“Due to Jill’s professionalism and persistence, the consultant was called from home and performed surgery at 11.30pm on the Sunday night. Beforehand the anaesthetist said Sarah had just a 20 per cent chance of surviving the operation and making a full recovery due to how ill she’d become.”

Miraculously Sarah pulled through the operation but things were touch and go for a further week while her body continued to fight the aggressive infection.

Several weeks later Sarah was discharged from hospital but medical staff warned she was still very fragile.

Josee said: “We had to wrap her in cotton wool – I couldn’t let her out of my sight.

“The infection had eaten away at her bone in her arm to the extent that it was like lace – any damage could shatter it beyond repair.

“Before the infection she’d been very rough and tumble but afterwards she was exhausted and fell behind at school. She had to give up all the things she loved, like horse riding and trampolining, which really affected her confidence.

“Sarah suffered psychological effects for years after – she felt very vulnerable and panicked at the slightest twinge in her arm.

“Thankfully, today she is fit, healthy and happy but still needs reassuring at times.”

As a thank you to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for the care Sarah received, Phil recently completed a gruelling triathlon at Rother Valley Country Park in aid of The Children’s Hospital Charity.

And on Make it Better Day the Shaws are calling on the people of Sheffield to follow in Phil’s footsteps by helping the charity further improve the hospital.

Phil said: “Sheffield Children’s Hospital is an incredible place where amazing people save countless children’s lives every day, every year and that is why I couldn’t think of a better charity to support.”

What difference will your money make at hospital?

Built in 1876, Sheffield Children’s Hospital has grown and developed massively over the years, but many of its wards were built in the 1960s and have since become tired and cramped.

The Children’s Hospital Charity launched its Make it Better appeal in 2012 with the aim of raising £10 million regionally by 2016, to extend and transform the existing hospital.

Money raised through the appeal will help create the best possible environment for children to get better more quickly, delivering world-class facilities to match the world-class expertise already provided.

The appeal will fund a brand new building and much-needed outdoor space including:

* an easy to access, spacious outpatients department to help children feel more comfortable when visiting hospital

* three brand new wards with 66 per cent single rooms, en suite facilities and parent beds, creating privacy and space to recover from treatment

* a new ward expanding the number of beds in the refurbished building

* a basement car park with 60 spaces, making it easier to visit

* a stimulating sensory garden for children to get some fresh air

* an outdoor space for reflection and respite.

The £25,000 raised by The Star and its readers will fund one of the single occupancy rooms in the new wing of the hospital.

James Mitchinson, editor at The Star, said: “Together with our readers we can improve the Children’s Hospital. If just 25,000 of our readers donate £1 to the cause we will reach our target and make it better for poorly children in Sheffield.”

How you can help the Children’s Hospital

Friday is Make it Better Day – 24 hours of mass fundraising which is aimed at helping to extend and improve services at the city’s Children’s Hospital.
We’re determined to do our bit to make things better for poorly children in Sheffield – but to do that we need YOUR help too.

The Star has committed to raise £25,000 as part of The Children’s Hospital Charity’s Make it Better appeal and so today we are asking our readers to dig deep and donate to the amazing cause.

As part of the fundraising bonanza, caring residents, businesses, schools and organisations throughout Sheffield and beyond will be holding a whole host of weird and wonderful events with the aim of raising as much money as possible for the appeal in 24 hours.

But you don’t need to have organised a fundraising event to partake in Make it Better Day.

You can help transform the hospital for poorly children and their families by donating directly to the appeal.


To donate directly to the appeal, text STAR31 followed by either £1, £2, £4, £5 or £10, depending on the amount you wish to donate, such as STAR31 £5, to 70070. Alternatively, to make a donation via The Star’s Just Giving page, visit


To receive a Make it Better Day fundraising pack, fill in and return our download form - CICK HERE.




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