We live in a little cul-de-sac with a real community feel to it. In the summer, the children all go out and play together on the street. Everyone knows everyone and there’s never a reason to worry about safety. At least that’s what I thought until the accident happened.
It was March and we were enjoying the first warm afternoon of the year. My then five year old son Bobby was in high spirits as my husband, Jeff, and I had just told him that he would be going to watch his favourite football team, Tottenham Hotspur, play for the first time at the weekend. He was ecstatic and darted out the front door to share the news with all his friends who were playing in the street out front. It was only half three in the afternoon and still light so I left him to it and carried on with some chores in the house, chuckling to myself about his football celebrations.
Suddenly I heard the screech of car brakes, a thud and then an eerie silence. The front door was still ajar from when Bobby had run outside only a couple of minutes earlier. I popped my head out to see what was going on and nothing could prepare me for what I saw. The children on the street were all gathered round an unrecognisable figure. Every step I took towards the scene brought me closer to realising my worst nightmare. It was Bobby, my Bobby, lying lifeless on the ground.
Jeff was already by Bobby’s side after hearing the commotion. We knew that with every second that passed we were losing him. With Saffron Walden Community Hospital located just round the corner from us, we decided drive Bobby straight there in the car. Every second was valuable and we were running on auto-pilot.
The hospital immediately called for an air ambulance to take him to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge as his injuries were so severe. With such little room in the helicopter, Jeff and I weren’t able to fly with him so had to drive and meet him there. For the entirety of the journey my mind was racing.
Bobby’s injuries were catastrophic. He had serious brain trauma, multiple fractured bones and severe lacerations. Frozen to the ground, I looked on as medical staff on the paediatric critical care unit battled to stabilise him. The prognosis was bleak. Doctors gave him just a 10% chance of survival and explained that even if Bobby was able to pull through, his recovery would be slow and he would be left with life-changing injuries. Our lives as we knew them would be changed forever. It was at this point that everything got too much handle. My world grew dark and I couldn’t catch my breath. A wave of panic overcame me and I went into complete shock.
Within 48 hours, Bobby underwent three brain surgeries to drain the excess fluid in an attempt to relieve pressure. In a state of shock, all I could do was go through the motions of being at my boy’s hospital bedside and reassure him that everything would be okay.
It was during this dark time that Jeff and I were told about The Sick Children’s Trust and the free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation it offered. Although hesitant about the prospect of not being right by our son’s side, we both knew that how we were living in that moment was not sustainable. We’d barely eaten, not showered and were physically and mentally exhausted. Something had to change.
As we were shown around Acorn House we realised that the accommodation was so much more than we had ever imagined. Our private family bedroom was warm and welcoming and what’s more, there was even enough room for Bobby’s older sisters, Sydney and Maddison, to stay too. We were going to be there for the foreseeable future, so the fact that it was so homely was incredible. And knowing that I could be there within just a few minutes if Bobby needed me was such a comfort.
Acorn House became our rock for the four months Bobby spent at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and it quickly became a place we called home. On our good days, we shared news of the small victories Bobby had made in his recovery, and on the bad we found consolation from Abi, the House Manager, and other families that were also staying. A couple of months in we even got to use the kitchen of the ‘Home from Home’ to throw Bobby a birthday party. We bought cake, hung up balloons and laid his presents out on the table. Seeing Bobby laugh and play with his sisters in an environment other than the hospital ward gave us the small glimmer of hope we so dearly needed. Everything was going to be alright.
The road to recovery was far from smooth but gradually Bobby started to build up his strength and was transferred to our local hospital in Tadworth to continue his rehabilitation. Finally, a year after the accident, we got to bring our boy home. Every day I count my lucky stars that Bobby was strong enough to pull through. Doctors predicted that he wouldn’t be able to talk or walk ever again but slowly, over time, I’m proud to say he is proving those predictions wrong.
I will always be grateful for what The Sick Children’s Trust did for us. It was so much more than what we could’ve asked for during the worst time of our lives. Every now and again, we visit Acorn House to catch up with Abi to show her just how much progress Bobby has made. She is always delighted. With so much love and goodwill surrounding him, I know that the future is only going to be bright for my Bobby.
Lucas and Leo were born eight weeks premature on Christmas Day. Lucas later needed further treatment when he was struggling with his breathing and needed specialist care. Acorn House made sure the family were always together.
Esther became critically ill last Autumn. She had a rare virus and was also diagnosed with SCID, she spent three months in hospitals across the country. We gave her parents a place to stay so they could be right by her side.
Every year we help families by giving them somewhere to stay near their seriously ill child’s hospital bedside. Sign up to receive our email newsletters to stay up to date with how your support is helping to keep families together.