LAST week I was invited to take a walk around Sheffield Children’s Hospital, and I was quick to take up the invitation.
Fronted by that Roald Dahl-esque facade upon Western Bank, the eery-looking red-brick building is the keystone of Sheffield’s care network. Founded in 1876, the place is anything but a factory for fairytales. With 60,000 people a year flooding through its tiny reception area, the place is a Tardis of excellence. David Vernon-Edwards of the Children’s Hospital Charity walked me around the facility, and I was immediately struck by the amount of people who knew him. You might think there’s nothing extraordinary about that, but given the trust employs thousands of people, it really is quite something to be acknowledged by employees of myriad disciplines across sprawling properties. But for all of its impressiveness, I was absolutely prepared for the director of a charity to know his job inside out. What I wasn’t really prepared for is the self-same person having a huge part of himself invested in the cause. You see, Mr Vernon-Edwards owes Sheffield Children’s Hospital a debt of gratitude. He knows all too well precisely what the work done within the walls of that place means to the people of Sheffield. He has a little one who needed every ounce of care and expertise on hand at SCH. He owes them one, he says. Now the hospital is about to embark upon a period of upheaval. It will not be easy, but the investment in terms of time, effort and money will cement Sheffield’s reputation as a world-leader in paediatric care and research development. Sheffield is already a leading light in paediatrics. Over 40 countries have turned to us for help in caring for their children – the place is now asking for your patience as it goes about evolving for future generations. I implore you to be supportive.