Patients launch Sheffield hospital’s appeal

Rio Vicary, aged one, with his mum Gemma Wright, and Ben Abbott, aged 92, are pictured at the fundraising launch at The Sheffield Children's Hospital.

Rio Vicary, aged one, with his mum Gemma Wright, and Ben Abbott, aged 92, are pictured at the fundraising launch at The Sheffield Children's Hospital.

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THE flag has been raised on a huge charity appeal – to help Sheffield Children’s Hospital make its £40m renovation project even better.

Hospital chiefs are planning to transform the building by replacing wards, improving parking and moving departments.

Blueprints were unveiled earlier this year for the big transformation – but now the hospital needs £20m for a series of state-of-the-art features, such as specialist medical equipment, single rooms with en-suite facilities and a play tower for young patients.

The hospital is urging people in South Yorkshire to help raise £10m over the next three years, and will seek another £10m from national sources.

The other half of the funding is being provided by the government.

Charity bosses launched the appeal at a ceremony with fundraisers and former patients Rio Vicary, aged one, from Bents Green, and 92-year-old Ben Abbott, of Gleadless, whose life was saved at the hospital in the 1920s.

David Vernon-Edwards, director of the Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Children from all over the UK come to Sheffield for treatment at our hospital and we need to provide the best care for everyone. I know what families need is a world-class environment that matches the world-class care they expect at our hospital, and we need to give it to them now. Throughout our history, our hospital has depended on the support of the community. That support is more vital than ever.”

Sheffield venues, including the City Hall and Ponds Forge, have already given their backing by displaying a ‘plaster cast’ logo.

Olympic champion Jessica Ennis, retired cricketer Michael Vaughan and broadcaster Michael Palin are also supporting the appeal.

Rio was accompanied by his mum Gemma Wright, 27. The infant, born with rare Angelman’s Syndrome, may never walk and will not talk, and needs regular appointments with 12 consultants.

Last Friday Rio was rushed back into the hospital again for emergency treatment when he suffered a burst artery. Gemma welcomed plans for improved wards and single rooms, intended to give families more space, privacy and dignity.

She said: “We’ve spent months here and it’s so hard to sleep in a hospital. Sometimes there are other unwell children very close to you who keep you awake – not their fault, of course, but it makes it hard.”

She said: “The staff are amazing, but when your child is in theatre, you don’t know what to do or where to go. The new garden spaces would be brilliant at times like that.”

Meanwhile, Mr Abbott was admitted to the hospital 89 years ago with a life-threatening bout of diphtheria, and needed treatment afterwards until he was nine.

“I’m so pleased to be asked to help with the launch,” said the retired engineer, who lives at Paddock Hill Care Home in Gleadless and recently donated £500 to the charity. I remember my mum saying the hospital saved my life. If we didn’t have the Children’s Hospital I wouldn’t be here today.”

n Visit www.make-it-better.org.uk to find out more about the appeal.

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