ALL aboard – news of Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity’s appeal to raise millions of pounds for a huge renovation programme is being spread far and wide.
East Midlands Trains has named one of its fleet – which operate every day between Sheffield and London – after the charity
And the train was given a celebrity unveiling at Sheffield Station today by former England cricket captain and Sheffield schoolboy Michael Vaughan and 10-year-old Owen Wilkinson, who has recovered after receiving life-saving treatment at the hospital.
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Michael said: “Many people aren’t aware there are only four dedicated children’s hospitals in the country and we are lucky enough to have one here in Sheffield.
“You only need to read Owen’s story to see what an extraordinary place it is.
“I think it’s fantastic East Midlands Trains has recognised the amazing work that goes on at the children’s hospital by naming one of their trains after it.”
Owen, a pupil at Mapplewell Primary School, Barnsley, was rushed to the hospital by ambulance after what had seemed a minor fall in the school playground two years ago.
His mum Caroline, who is deputy headteacher at the school, said: “Owen insisted he was fine after the fall, but later he became quiet and started to feel sick.
“Myself and his class teacher thought it was probably a concussion, but that he should be checked out, so I took him to Barnsley Hospital.
“When I was told Owen had a skull fracture and a severe bleed on the brain, it was as though I was in an imaginary bubble; you never think it will happen to your child. Your initial thoughts are ‘will he survive?’ Thankfully the support which staff gave me at Barnsley ensured I remained positive and took things a step at a time.”
“Owen needed to be rushed to The Children’s Hospital where the theatres team were getting ready to operate.
“When I heard we were going to Sheffield, I realised how serious the situation was, because I was already aware of all the specialist care that goes on there.”
“When we arrived at The Children’s Hospital the staff were wonderful – we knew we were in the best hands.”
While Caroline and husband Mark awaited news of Owen, then aged eight, they met another couple, whose 12-year-old son had also been rushed to surgery, with the very same condition.
Caroline said: “What was even more incredible was that Mark recognised the other boy’s father from football.”
Due to the dedication of the theatre team who opened two theatres, neurosurgeon Saurabh Sinha and his team were able to operate on the two boys simultaneously, managing to save both of their lives.
Caroline said: “It’s amazing we’ve got a specialist hospital nearby. We wouldn’t have Owen today without their care and dedication.”
Rebecca Staden, The Children’s Hospital Charity senior fundraiser, said: “We want to say a huge thank you to East Midlands Trains for this special naming honour and for its continued support for our Make it Better appeal.
“It is very fitting our hospital, which treats children from all over the country, will now be the name of a train that travels across the country. It’s a fantastic way to raise the profile of the hospital and our appeal.”
The charity’s Make It Better appeal aims to raise £20 million towards a £40 million project to revamp the hospital.
Tim Sayer, East Midlands Trains engineering director, said: “The hospital means a lot to East Midlands Trains and we are proud to be playing our part in supporting this important local charity.
“We have been working closely with the charity throughout 2012 and are looking forward to continuing our support.
“It’s great to be able to recognise the hospital in this way and we hope it will help to raise awareness of the vital work carried out at the hospital.
“This is the third train naming we have carried out at Sheffield which is a key city on our network. As well as the Children’s Hospital, the Master Cutler and The Star also have one of our trains named after them. We hope this all helps to play its part in keeping Sheffield on the map.”