Sheffield widow leaves £854,000 to city’s Children’s Hospital

Amber Whiston, aged six, from Woodseats, with her mum, Lara Joyce
Amber Whiston, aged six, from Woodseats, with her mum, Lara Joyce
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A kind-hearted widow left £850,000 to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in her will to help save the lives of sick youngsters battling brain conditions.

Betty Alsop’s generous £854,273 legacy enabled hospital bosses to buy a £2.3 million state-of-the art MRI scanner to improve the diagnosis and treatment of neurological conditions, including brain tumours.


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The device is the only one in the north of England and has already been used to save the lives of four children since it was installed in the hospital six weeks ago.

Betty, who died in September 2014 and was a member of St Luke’s Church in Lodge Moor, had no children or family to leave her estate to.

Her husband James, a successful engineer who worked on the Thames Barrier project, died one year before her.

Betty, formerly of Rochester Drive, Crosspool, also left money to a number of other charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Yorkshire Air Ambulance, the NSPCC and Edale Mountain Rescue.

Her friend Carolyn Mapleson, 62, from Essex, said: “She was a thoroughly Yorkshire lass – quite frugal but extremely generous at the same time.

“I met Betty while at an arts break at Losehill Hall in Derbyshire. She was lovely, and we spoke on the phone every Sunday since then.

“If anyone needed anything, Betty would be there to help them out. I will miss her greatly.”

David Vernon-Edwards, director of The Children’s Hospital Charity, which used Betty’s legacy to help buy the scanner, said the pensioner had shown ‘remarkable generosity’.

“This remarkable show of generosity has been put towards an incredible piece of equipment that makes us one of the UK’s leading centres for neurosurgery,” he said.

“Betty’s legacy will mean that children with brain conditions have access to the best possible care, so every child has the best chance of a full and healthy life.

“We still have half a million to raise, but have taken delivery of the scanner so it can start getting to work straight away.”

Amber Whiston, aged six, from Woodseats, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour at eight months old, will benefit from the scanner, which is used on children undergoing operations to enable surgeons to remove complete tumours - improving their chances of making a full survival and avoiding the need for further operations.

Her mum, Lara Joyce, said: “This scanner means they can be that much more precise because the image is so much clearer. That means they can go deeper, removing more of the tumour than before whereas before they wouldn’t dare for fear of damaging healthy tissue.

“To think they can do something more with this piece of equipment, that’s fantastic.”