A family-run haulage company from Penrith has found an imaginative way to thank a charity for its support while their 13-year-old daughter was seriously ill in Newcastle.
Ian and Gill Ridley, owners of Ian Ridley Transport, have liveried one of their new trailers in the branding of The Sick Children’s Trust.
The charity’s Crawford House ‘Home from Home’, located at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), came to the family’s rescue in October 2019 when their eldest daughter Jessie was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Gill said:
“Jessie was having problems with her eyes and an MRI scan revealed a bright patch on her brain, so she was sent to the RVI in Newcastle for further investigation. That was on a Monday, and by the Wednesday Jess was in theatre having the tumour removed. It was like stepping onto a terrifying rollercoaster.”
Being over 90 minutes away from their Penrith home, the Ridleys found themselves in need of somewhere to stay. While mum Gill was able to stay on the ward with Jessie, dad Ian and his sister, Jayne and her partner Ronnie, were hopping from hotel to hotel at great expense just to remain near during this critical time. That was until a chance encounter lead the Ridleys to The Sick Children’s Trust’s doorstep, with the Crawford House ‘Home from Home’ being located onsite at the RVI, just minutes from Jessie’s ward. It proved to be a lifeline for the family. Gill said:
Jessie Ridley was treated for a brain tumour at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary. Credit: Gill Ridley.
“In the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) I bumped into a friend, a nurse who works on the ICU and lives in the next village to us. She told us all about Crawford House and how they support families like ours, miles away from home, with a place to stay on site. We were quickly given a room and it was brilliant.
“It gave us a base from which we could all stay as close to Jessie as possible, which was such a weight off our minds at an awful time. It allowed us to look after ourselves, have a shower, wash clothes, sleep and even make a meal. It was so important to us, allowing our youngest daughter, Mollie to come and stay. It even helped keep our business going, with Ian often working from Crawford House, to keep things ticking over. It was an absolute lifeline.”
The family were supported by us for just over week, with Jessie successfully coming through surgery before going on to make an excellent recovery. Nearly four years later, Jessie, who created the striking trailer design with sister Mollie, is continuing to thrive.
“She is still having regular checks at the RVI, but everything continues to look good. She has lost some of her vision because of the condition, but it is truly a small price to pay for her still being here.”
With Ian Ridley Transport covering much of Scotland and going as far south as Kent, the eye-catching trailer – complete with donation QR code – will be seen by thousands of motorists up and down the country. The donations have already started, with Dennison Trailers pledging to the charity after hearing their customer’s story, the Ridleys donating after the trailer sign writer waived his fee and numerous other customers gifting after seeing the trailer.
“The Sick Children’s Trust means so much to so many people. We really hope that our trailer helps to raise awareness and funds for them. It is our pride and joy and is the least we can do after what they did for us.
“It’s not an experience I would wish on anyone, but to have that facility and to be able to be so close to the hospital was just amazing.”
Left to right: Jessie, Gill, Mollie and Ian Ridley. Credit: Gill Ridley.
Andrew Leadbitter, House Manager of Crawford House, said: “When the Ridleys told us about wanting to do this we simply could not believe it. The trailer looks amazing and will play a vital role in raising awareness about The Sick Children’s Trust and our ‘Homes from Home’. We are all just thrilled and cannot thank them enough for wanting to give back to us in such a unique way.”