I survived against the odds

In May 1955, 2 months after I was born, I was diagnosed with a tumour in my windpipe.  I was admitted to Birmingham Children’s Hospital straight away,  and spent the next  2 years of my life under the care of an my consultant Mr Stirk-Adams and his staff.  Thanks to their skill and dedication, I survived against the odds.

In those days the hospital was in Ladywood and on visiting days, my mother had to take 3 buses from our home in Kings Heath, to see me. I often think that she must have been exhausted worrying about me, and looking after my older sister as well. 

My BCH story didn’t end there. When I was 7 years old I was admitted again after suffering a ruptured appendix, and when I was 10 to have teeth removed because the radiation treatment for my throat had stopped the roof of my mouth growing correctly.  My check-ups and appointments actually carried on until I was 21 years old. Not surprisingly, our family felt that we owed Birmingham Children’s Hospital an awful lot.

A legacy for future generations

My mother was an incredibly kind, generous person and would help anyone. She doted on her family and had 5 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. She shared a special bond with my daughter, Laura, who also ended up being treated at the children’s hospital.

Throughout her life my mum spoke of her love and admiration for BCH. She wanted to help the doctors and nurses to carry on the brilliant work they do and to provide greater support to the families of poorly children.

We always knew that Mum planned to leave a gift to the hospital in her will, and I believe it is a lovely and fitting reflection of her personality and of her appreciation for the hospital that saved my life. It is her legacy for future generations - and our whole family is really proud of that.

Following in my mother’s footsteps

Nowadays parents are encouraged to stay with their children in hospital – but that wasn’t the case in the 1950’s. My parents would have loved to stay with me for even one night. It must have been a very upsetting and difficult time for them, and for me. I’m sure I would have benefitted emotionally from more contact. They were good and loving parents but I am sure that being separated from them for such a long time made a difference to me. Thanks to Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charities parents can now stay with their child 24 hours a day - I’m sure this must help children to recover help to maintain a sense of belonging to a family.

I am so proud of mum’s legacy and I plan to follow her example by leaving a gift in my will that will help them to continue their wonderful work.