Sheffield businessman's incredible gift to children

Help us raise a tower of cash for poorly children in Sheffield.

Monday, 14th November 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:09 pm
Graham Royle, left, is given  a tour of the play tower in Stheffield Children's Hospital's new wing
Graham Royle, left, is given a tour of the play tower in Stheffield Children's Hospital's new wing

A generous Sheffield businessman has laid down a challenge for the city to make sure Sheffield Children’s Hospital Play Tower is finished.

Graham Royle has pledged £100,000 to match people’s donations to finish the Play Tower.

David, of the Children's Hospital Charity, gives Graham Royle a tour of the play tower in the hospital's new wing

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Building work on the tower, which will provide young patients in the hospital with an escape between treatments, is already well underway, as part of the hospital’s £40 million revamp.

And Now The Star is backing the charity as it launches its ‘£for£’ campaign to ensure there is enough money to finish the Play Tower and unveil it next April.

“The work this hospital does is exceptional,” said Graham, director of Sheffield chemicals and personal care manufacturing group GRI.

“I want to know who’s going to stand up and help me get them this last bit of funding to make this play tower a reality for children all across the region, and beyond.”

Graham Royle has a tour of the play tower in the hospital's new wing

Sheffield Children’s Hospital holds a special place in Graham’s heart.

“And it’s not because I have a family member or friend that’s been treated there – though I think everyone in the city knows someone whose children have benefited from its services at one time,” said the Sheffield businessman.

“It’s simply that the work they do there is so important, and they’ve been there for so many families at some of the most difficult times of their lives.”

Graham has offered to help the appeal despite having already raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for the Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity in recent years.

Artist's view of Play Tower, as it will look

“The skeleton of the Play Tower is already there,” said Graham.

“But the money to finish the build isn’t quite. That’s where we, all of us, the people of this city, come in.”

Graham is no stranger to charitable giving – donating £160,000 every year to a number of local charities, many of which he has been trustee or board member of at some point in the past 20 years.

“Sheffield Children’s Hospital is by far my favourite,” he insisted.

Jonathan and mum Christina

“I don’t have ties to any of the charities I work with, but I do think people like myself have a social responsibility – not a political one, or a corporate one – to put something back into their communities.

“I didn’t come from a family of wealth, I was one of seven children and we lost my father when I was very young. I had a tough upbringing and now I’m lucky enough to be in a position to help others make things a little less tough.”

And Graham is hoping his stand will pull at the heartstrings of other businesses in the region.

“It comes down to money,” he said simply.

“They need this money to create something wonderful, which is why I’m happy to match every donation given – big or small – until they hit their target.”

And as part of the ‘£for£’ campaign, Sheffield Children’s Hospital Trust is inviting everyone in the region to join in its National Elf Service Day on December 16.

David, of the Children's Hospital Charity, gives Graham Royle a tour of the play tower in the hospital's new wing

David Vernon-Edwards, director of Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “National Elf Service Day started off as a fun day in the hospital around Christmas, with a competition for the best decorated ward and some bake sales and games. Since then it’s evolved into a major city-wide day of fundraising.

“As part of the ‘£for£’ campaign, we’re asking schools, businesses, community groups and organisations, and individuals to either host an event to raise some money, or make a donation to the cause.

“It could be something as simple as forgoing sending Christmas cards, and sending the charity the money you would have spent. And everything you send, no matter how big or small, will be match-funded by Graham until we hit our total.

“We really can’t thank Graham enough for his generosity. He’s already given so much, his support is unwavering, and we’re hoping his message – one of giving, which is particularly fitting at this time of year - will inspire others to dig deep.”

The Play Tower is part of a the children’s hospital’s new £40 million wing, which includes a new outpatients department, wards and private rooms.

David added: “The Play Tower will provide a beautiful space for play specialists to spend time with children, distracting them from everything else that is going on around them, and allowing them some time to just be children.

“There is also a clinical side to the Play Tower, as extensive research has shown that using play to distract children from their conditions can be incredibly beneficial to their health, and even reduce the need for other clinicians during some procedures, saving staff time and costs.

“The Play Tower will provide a setting for the children to play, to take part in music or art workshops, and it will give them some motivation – during the course of their recovery – somewhere they want to try and get to, some place fun away from their hospital bed. Somewhere they can be kids.”

Last Christmas, 15-year-old Jonathan Potts spent the festive season at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, in recovery from an eight-hour operation to remove a brain tumour.

One year on, as Jonathan is looking forward to a healthy Christmas at home, his family are urging people to donate to the ‘£for£’ appeal – to help make future Christmas days as fun as possible for children at the hospital.

“Christmas day on Jonathan’s ward was quite difficult as most of the children were really poorly,” recalls his mum Christina.

“The hospital did everything they could to make the day festive, and we can’t thank them enough for that, but it did feel like we missed a Christmas. Any way that you can contribute to this appeal and help make future Christmas’s brighter for children in hospital will make such a difference.”

Graham added: “This is a great city, I’ve never known a place with community spirit like it, so now’s the time to make a stand with me and show the children’s hospital just how much we think of the amazing work they do.”

* Visit The Children’s Hospital Charity to find out more about how you can get involved in National Elf Service Day or make a donation to the ‘£for£’ appeal.

Graham Royle has a tour of the play tower in the hospital's new wing
Artist's view of Play Tower, as it will look
Jonathan and mum Christina