Can you help Ronald McDonald House Charities give a lifeline to families in need, just as we were helped by them during Hugo’s life?
My family is forever indebted to the Ronald McDonald House Charities, so when the lovely team got in touch to ask if I could help promote a new special book to help raise funds I was more than happy to help.
The Tooting House, where we stayed, is the setting for a very special book that aims to bring to life the comfort the Charity provides for families and seriously ill children. The books are available to download for free as pdfs – and you are asked to give a donation in return.
My son Hugo was born in St George’s Hospital, which is a two hour drive from our home.
I had been transferred to the south London hospital by emergency ambulance the day before Hugo’s birth because I was seriously ill, and it was the closest hospital with a free bed.
Hugo was in the neonatal intensive care unit, and I was in general intensive care.
I remember my other half Martin telling me that we had been given a room at the Tooting Ronald McDonald House, for as long as we needed it. I’d seen the collection boxes at McDonalds but not really thought about the Houses or their purpose – in fact, I remember that when Martin told me we had a place to stay, I wondered why he was staying in a McDonalds (thanks to the morphine-induced haze!).
The Charity provides a free ‘home away from home’ for families with children in hospital. The Ronald McDonald House in Tooting has eight bedrooms close to the St Georges Hospital, so parents are never too far away from their child.
Martin was able to start staying there straight away, and I could join him as soon as I was well enough to be discharged from hospital.
That moment was such a huge relief for both of us. We were a long way from home. Having the room in the Tooting House meant that we could both dedicate our time and energy to our son.
Martin and I spent many hours by Hugo’s side, and it was so reassuring to know that we weren’t far away if something happened when we weren’t there.
We really appreciated the kitchen, and having somewhere to prepare healthy meals. This was especially important for me because I was expressing my breast milk for Hugo.
The dining room also provided a place to chat to other parents, and we’ve become lifelong friends with a couple whose babies were in the unit at the same time as Hugo.
Tooting’s staff were wonderful, and so supportive too. We can’t thank them enough.
Tragically, Hugo lost his fight for life at the age of 35 days. We’re utterly heartbroken.
We will always be grateful to Ronald McDonald House Tooting for giving us a place to stay when we were in need, which meant we were able to dedicate precious time to our much-wanted, much-loved son.
At Hugo’s funeral, we asked for donations to the Tooting House and thanks to the generosity of our friends and families we were able to help other families in Hugo’s memory.
Would you like to help sick children and their families too? You can donate when you download a Patch and Friends book (there will be 10 in total).
Lauren Gotlieb, Marketing and Communications Manager for Ronald McDonald House Charities provides a bit of background to the books: “We all know that a bedtime story from mum or dad is a special time for children and this is even more precious for a child being treated in hospital far from home. The idea behind our Night Light campaign is to give something back to our donors by allowing free download of the stories. There will be opportunities to donate throughout the campaign so we hope that our local supporters and fundraisers will help us with our task of ensuring that more families both know about us and benefit from our help at a time when they need it most.”
The night light character is called Patch, a name chosen by judges from more than 1,000 suggestions sent in by the public.
The book is part of a three-month campaign which will also see a retro e-book featuring much-loved children’s characters from the ’80s joining Patch on his adventures, alongside a short online film – bringing the campaign full circle and emphasising the important role Ronald McDonald House Charities plays in keeping families close.