Hilda Lang was based in Buckinghamshire most of her life and left the donation in her will after seeing the care which had been provided to her great-nephew by the Sleep Team at Sheffield Children's Hospital.
The gift has advanced research into conditions which cause children and young people severe sleep problems.
Her contribution has now been honoured with a plaque, as it marks her legacy for years to come at Sheffield Children’s Sleep House.
Born in 1921 in Selby, Hilda lived a life of service to her country, as the outbreak of the Second World War saw Hilda conscripted into Auxiliary Territorial Service in the Signals Section to work as a teleprinter operator in Oxford.
In 1944, she was transferred to Royal Signals Southern Command when she was promoted to Lance Corporal, where she met the love of her life, Jim.
She finished her career working at the Joint Services Staff College at Latimer House in Buckinghamshire, where officers of the UK, Commonwealth and USA were jointly trained.
Hilda’s 16-year-old great-nephew Sam Forbes developed narcolepsy and catalepsy when he was four years old. He also suffers with chronic pain, night terrors and hallucinations.
‘Hilda would be thrilled’
His mum Di Forbes said: “Hilda wasn’t very mobile in her last couple of years but saw Sam often and understood his narcolepsy diagnosis and his daily struggles. She had no children of her own and so our little family mattered even more to her.
“As a family, we were so proud to be able to gift the money left in Hilda’s will to the Sleep Team at Sheffield Children’s.
“We know they go above and beyond as a matter of course, but the care has been phenomenal. We cannot praise them enough; they have made a massive difference to my son and my family.
“The Sleep Team have been pivotal in ensuring Sam could stay in school. Thanks to their care, he has managed to achieve good GCSE results and is now planning to attend university to study business or accountancy.
“We haven’t seen the plaque in person yet, but we are proud to know it is there and that Hilda will make a massive difference to so many families like ours. She would be thrilled.”
Narcolepsy is a very rare brain condition that causes uncontrollable sleepiness. The Narcolepsy Service at Sheffield Children’s Hospital sees over 80 children from across the UK.
Donations to The Children’s Hospital Charity also fund an annual Narcolepsy Day, which is unique to Sheffield and involves affected families sharing experiences and support.
Janine Reynolds, specialist nurse from the Narcolepsy Team, said “On behalf of everyone in the Narcolepsy Team, we would like to extend our warm thanks to Hilda’s family for this extremely generous donation, which will be used to try and improve the diagnosis, support and management of children and young people with this condition.”
Friday, March 18 marks World Sleep Day, which aims to highlight the importance of sleep and the benefits of healthy sleep for all children, young people and adults across our community and worldwide.