Recently our Stevenson House ‘Home from Home’ received a wonderful renovation gift, from renowned global construction company ISG which has an office nearby. They installed a brand-new kitchen to serve families staying while their children are being treated at The Royal London Hospital.
ISG pulled in numerous local contractors and suppliers, who generously gifted their time and resources on a kitchen refurbishment that would have cost us more than £30,000.
The driving force behind ISG’s eight-day overhaul mission was Project Manager Danny Joy, who has first-hand experience of the charity’s work. Danny and his family stayed at our Guilford Street House ‘Home from Home’ in 2017, when his son, Henry, was being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Danny has kindly shared his story, explaining just how important The Sick Children’s Trust was to his family during the most challenging of times.
“Our son Henry was born 2 September 2017 and it was quickly discovered he had a heart defect. He was moved into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Queen’s, our local hospital in Romford, where he stayed for a couple of weeks. It was here that we began to understand the enormity and complexity of his condition called ‘Tetralogy of Fallot’, a form of congenital heart disease.
“It seemed to go unnoticed that we lived just five minutes away from the hospital. My wife and I would attend as often as we were permitted, being unable to stay with him in NICU. As the seriousness of his condition came to light, it became apparent that he needed round the clock specialist care. Henry was moved to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in central London, a lot further away from home. Outside of what was happening with Henry, my company was about to go into administration. This came with massive financial worries for us.
“On our first night in GOSH, we knew nothing of The Sick Children’s Trust. When we were asked if we had a place to stay, I said ‘yes’, but only because I’d booked a hotel room for myself, wife, and daughter for two nights to ensure we had somewhere to stay. I remember at the time thinking about how we were going to pay for a hotel every night, especially when we were already facing the prospect of losing our house and business.
“On the third day we were offered a place to stay by The Sick Children’s Trust at Guilford Street House, and the relief was indescribable. It was a horrible feeling to be worried about money when I should have been worried about my son. However, the reality for us and many other families is the costs associated with visiting a sick relative are immense, whether it’s the loss of wages or the cost of travel and food for the day. Even a round of coffee, or parking and parking tickets. All these little things added to the stress and worry of having our son ill in hospital.
“GOSH is an amazing hospital, we cannot say enough good things about it, and we feel the same way about The Sick Children’s Trust. To be able to have a warm room, a place to cook, wash, and to rest, and yet be a short walk from Henry’s bed side 24/7 … it is very difficult for me to put into words how grateful we were. We quickly got into a routine where my wife would visit during the day after she had completed the school run while I would stay weeknights. Luckily my place of work was nearby so I was able to catch up with my wife at lunchtime. At weekends we would all stay as a family at Guilford Street House, so we could all be together.
“We found sharing our experience with other families in similar situations to be both reassuring and therapeutic. To hear so many happy stories from families whose children got better or about successful operations in the kitchen every evening or the next morning at breakfast gave each of us hope for a happy ending of our own. Sadly, for us it wasn’t to be. Henry passed away on the 28 December 2017. It was a horrendous year for us; we do look back and wonder how we got through it. When we do talk about Henry’s time in GOSH it is never without recognition of The Sick Children’s Trust and the time spent at Guilford Street House. We would never have been able to cope without their support.
“When I knew I had the opportunity to give something back to The Sick Children’s Trust I was only too happy. Upon visiting Stevenson House ahead of the project, I looked at the visitor’s book and read a few thank you messages left by recent guests. The first one I read said: ’Words cannot explain how grateful we are for having us. Thank you so, so much’. I knew exactly how they felt.”
To read more about the new kitchen installed at Stevenson House, click here.
Danny Joy with baby Henry.