A father and son from Bardwell, Suffolk, are taking on a skydive with the British Army Parachute Regiment Display Team to support The Sick Children’s Trust.
Matt Fordham and his son, Lewis, will join the Red Devils on 17 May to complete a tandem skydive from 13,500ft. The duo are taking on the challenge to raise funds for The Sick Children’s Trust after the charity supported the family of Matt’s nephew, William, when he underwent treatment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
In 2015 William suffered multiple tonic-clonic seizures which caused him to repeatedly lose consciousness. He was rushed to Ipswich Hospital, but with seizures continuing, the decision was made to intubate him before being transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge for specialist care.
William underwent several tests to determine the cause before eventually being diagnosed with encephalitis, which causes the brain to become inflamed and swollen. During his recovery William’s parents, Alison and Mark Flinton, were supported with a free place to stay at Acorn House, a ‘Home from Home’ run by The Sick Children’s Trust, located on the hospital site in Cambridge.
William continued to suffer seizures for the next five years, undergoing assessments to determine whether surgery to remove the part of his brain scarred by the encephalitis, the cause of his seizures, could take place. In 2022 William underwent video telemetry studies and surgical electroencephalograms at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Unfortunately, William was unable to undergo the procedure as the seizures start from the area of his brain responsible for his right hand motor skills as well as his speech and language skills.
Although it has prevented him from pursuing his love of horse racing, William remains incredibly upbeat. Now Matt and Lewis are taking on a skydive to thank the charity for its support. Matt said:
“A close friend of mine is a keen skydiver, he’s done several jumps with the Red Devils. When he asked if I would like to do a jump I said yes straight away. While being given this unique opportunity I also wanted to raise some money for a good cause. Knowing how much Alison and Mark benefited from the support of The Sick Children’s Trust, it was a no brainer to fundraise for this charity to support its ‘Homes from Home’.
“Lewis and William are extremely close, they are like brothers. When I asked Lewis about joining me, he said yes without even blinking an eye. Nothing really phases him, but I’m sure the nerves will hit us both once we’re dangling out of the plane! Knowing that we’re doing it for William and such an amazing charity will give us the courage we need to take the plunge.”
The Sick Children’s Trust have ten ‘Homes from Home’ which support families, like William’s, from across the country while their children are seriously ill in hospital. William’s mum Alison said:
“Acorn House was an absolute lifeline for us, allowing me to spend as much time as possible next to William’s hospital bedside. With so much uncertainty surrounding William’s health and the cause of his seizures, for us to be able to stay just two minutes from the hospital was invaluable.
“We also had a phone in our room connected directly to the ward, should we need to rush over to the hospital at any stage. As well as relieving some of our worries, it meant that I could take time away from the hospital to rest and look after myself while still being there for William.
“While William’s risk of further seizures prevent him from doing many of the things he previously enjoyed, he still has a great sense of humour, loves his cricket and continues to work with horses. We’ll be enterally grateful to The Sick Children’s Trust for their support.”
The Sick Children’s Trust does not charge families to stay in any of its ‘Homes from Home’ however it does cost the charity £40 to support a family for one night. That cost is only rising with the cost-of-living crisis which is why the charity needs even more support. Community Fundraising Manger, Elisa Coppello Dowd, said:
“We’re so pleased we could support Alison and Mark so they could stay together and be there for William throughout his treatment. Matt and Lewis have been given a fantastic opportunity to do a skydive with the British Army Parachute Regiment Display Team and we can’t thank them enough for supporting our ‘Homes from Home’ through this challenge.
“As a charity we rely on the generosity of our supporters and fundraisers, like Matt and Lewis, to make sure we can continue supporting families while their children are seriously ill in hospital.”
More information about Matt and Lewis’ fundraising can be found on there Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/page/matt-lewis-skydive-17may?utm_term=bjnXXEavb