Parents of seriously ill children at a Sheffield hospital have made a film to raise money for the home from home which has helped them cope in very difficult circumstances. Catherine Scott reports.
WHEN Ellie Thompson is undergoing treatment for leukaemia at the Sheffield Children’s Hospital, all she craves is her dad’s spaghetti bolognese.
And thanks to PACT House – a special home from home next door to the hospital she has been able to.
“It has made such a difference to us,” says Ellie’s mum Lindsey. Ellie, now 10, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia when she was eight. She is due to end her treatment in April.
“There was a period when she wasn’t allowed out of the hospital but could go to go to PACT House for an hour. This meant that she could be with us and her brother Joshua and have her favourite meal and afterwards we’d watch Home and Away and Neighbours together. It made such a big difference to us.”
As well as having raised more than £6,000 for PACT themselves, now Ellie and her family are stars in a new film to raise awareness of the charity.
PACT – Parents’ Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia – was formed more than 30 years ago. As well as running the home from home next door to the hospital, the charity organises holidays and families are supported by manager Beryl Welburn, whose own daughter suffered leukaemia when she was 21.
“Beryl just seems to know how you are feeling when she sees you. The fact she has been through it herself means she really understands what we are going through,” says Lindsey. “She has been such as support to all of us.” The moving six-minute film tells the stories of a number of families who have been helped by PACT. Although all of the stories are emotional and some have tragic outcomes, the film is inspirational.
PACT trustee Robin Jeeps works with the charity and came up with the idea.
“I became involved with PACT after my daughter Laura died from Acute Myeloid Leukaemia when she was 21 weeks old,” explains Robin. “She wasn’t strong enough to fight it. After she died we got a letter from PACT, which I’d never heard of, offering us their support.”
That was six years ago and for the last two years Robin has been a trustee of the charity. “One of the problems is that we have a lot of hospitals in Sheffield who have their own charities all vying for money. It seemed that people just weren’t aware of us so as a result the amount of money coming in was falling,” explains Robin.
“We needed to find away of raising our profile. The charity has been here for 30 years and we want it to be here for at least another 30.”
After deciding to make a film of parents’ and children’s experiences they spent two days filming 15 different families talking about what the home from home means to them. “They were amazing,” said Robin. “We wanted three minutes and we ended up with 32 minutes.”
The end results is a moving tribute to PACT, Beryl and the families they help.
For more information visit www.pactfriends.co.uk/film/
For more details on fundraising by Ellie’s family including a coast to coast bike ride visit http://www.justgiving.com/Ellies-Heroes