Article: Yorkshire Children’s Trust
July 29, 2017: The Yorkshire Children’s Trust is a charity in the UK which provides support to families in the Yorkshire area with seriously ill children. The Trust was created in 2011 by Simon and Dawn Widdop, parents to (now, leukemia-survivor), Leigh Anne Widdop and her aunt, Sarah Thompson.
During Leigh-Anne’s long and very difficult battle with leukemia at the Children’s Cancer Centre in Leeds, her parents met other families experiencing some of the same fears and frustrations as they were; especially when trying to provide the costly medical needs for their sick children. 5 year-old Leigh-Anne had a particularly difficult time with the aggressive cancer, (below with her mum and dad. Photo, courtesy of Yorkshire Children’s Trust.)
To help her body cope after the many routines of treatment and the toll it was taking on her body, she was placed in an induced coma so that her body could rest. Upon her awakening, the doctors determined that Leigh-Anne would need a bone marrow treatment to increase her odds of survival, which she received through the use of stem cell donation. This meant another long 4-6 weeks stay; this time in a sterilized “clean room” because her immune system was depleted with the transplant. It was wonderful news that Leigh-Anne was able to beat the odds and near year’s end, on Christmas Eve, she was able to go home.
While Leigh-Anne’s survival was victorious, the result of her ordeal left her with epilepsy and learning difficulties. Unfortunately, there are far too many children facing ordeals similar to Leigh-Anne’s, but far too few to survive it. Battling diseases such as leukemia, neuroblastoma, and other childhood cancers also takes a toll on families-mentally, physically, and financially.
Due to their experience with this first hand, the creators and their team at Yorkshire Children’s Trust made it their mission to lessen whatever burden it could on families of seriously ill children. One big burden is the cost and availability of certain medications and treatment therapy. This adds a great deal of financial strain on an already stressful situation for a family and often beyond what a family can provide. This is most especially true in the UK where many of the additional trial treatments for their child may require traveling abroad to get it.
Operating solely through gifts and donations from local fundraisers, The Yorkshire Children’s Trust began small. The Trust first began by helping local children in its origin area of Halifax get provisions such as medical equipment, transportation, lodging, or home and transport modifications. In just a few short years of operation the Yorkshire Children’s Trust grew financially allowing it to help serve poorly children in all four of the Yorkshire regions. It has continued to serve all of these regions over the years through the generosity of donors and hard working fundraisers; many of them young students at the local schools and citizens within the community it serves.
In 2017 the charity has begun adding another layer of support by addressing the emotional drain that many families experience so to help, they offer “mid-week breaks” throughout the year. This break will not be just for the poorly child, but also for mum, dad and any siblings too; individual breaks and as a family. Some of these breaks include small getaways and short mini-trips from the hospital- even if for just a few hours break. A mid-week break might also be for a family fun day (photo is shared/credited to Yorkshire Children’s Trust website).
Yorkshire Children’s Trust has expressed goals to soon expand their support to families by offering access to one-on-one counseling with professionals and creating ways for caregivers to access information easier in regards to welfare, available funding sources, and how to find and get support when dealing with debt while their child is sick or is disabled.
To learn more about the work the Yorkshire Children’s Trust have been doing for their community and how you can help, start here