A Stafford school pupil has topped this week’s Charity Champion leader board after raising over £1,800 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity – enough to close its Out to Play Appeal.

Inspired by her sister’s expert care, nine-year-old Flo Turner, who attends Church Eaton Primary School, hosted a charity raffle and tea party for the charity’s £230,000 Out to Play Appeal - which her family has been supporting since it launched in December 2017.

Flo’s older sister, Millie, 10, is treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital for a rare chromosome condition called Potocki Lupski Syndrome. Last year, Millie had a major neurosurgery to remove fluid on her spine – a result of herniated brain, chiari malformation and a small piece of bone pressing onto her brain stem. The operation, which was extremely complicated and carried many significant risks, lasted over 10 hours.

In the lead up to this operation, the anxieties felt by Millie’s parents were immense. Mum, Kathryn, 36, remembers: “It was an extremely scary time for us all and although I was incredibly concerned for Millie, I was also worried about the impact on my other two children, Flo and Stan.

“The hospital’s playground provided a little bubble of fun and relief for Millie’s sister, Flo, and brother, Stan, 5. It meant our chats could happen outside rather than in a closed clinical room, adding a bit of normality to their lives in what was an unusual and difficult situation.

“As Millie got stronger the first place she wanted to go to was the playground that Flo and Stan were so excited about, and Flo took great pride in wheeling her there. The play area also served as a great physiotherapy incentive as once Millie was outside she seemed to relax a little and wanted to get around and move about more than she did on the ward, which really aided her recovery.”

The charity’s Out to Play Appeal intends to totally revamp the hospital’s outdoor playground, which after 12 years of constant use is now outdated and unfit for purpose.

The Turner’s were chosen to front the appeal as they are one of hundreds of families at the hospital who have experienced first-hand the positive impact the playground can have on patients, siblings and families. Millie and her family were so passionate about the appeal; they took part in videos and interviews, fundraised at the hospital and spread the word to their school, local community and beyond, the Out to Play appeal was even given the nickname ‘Millie’s Mission’, and now 10 incredibly successful months later it is fitting that Millie’s family has raised the final £1,800 which was enough to close the appeal. 

To bring the appeal over the line, Flo organised a raffle and a tea party and invited all her family and friends, as well as the local community. Overwhelmed with the response her fundraiser had, Flo said: “Over 100 people joined us on the day, and everyone had a great time. We were lucky enough to have some great raffle prizes donated from places like Hoar Cross Hall and the BBC in London, that the raffle had sold out even before the day had started!

“We were so excited when we heard that our event had actually closed the appeal!”

Serena Daw, Public Fundraising Manager at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital Charity, added: “We’re so pleased to announce that thanks to the Turner family’s final boost, we have crossed the line and reached our £230,000 target, meaning our Out to Play Appeal has now closed.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has supported, fundraised or donated to the appeal as we are now one step closer to offering our patients a vibrant, new outdoor playground. This will allow them to escape from the clinical atmosphere of the wards to get fresh air and exercise as well as much-needed time with their siblings and family.

“A special thank you of course has to go to Millie, Flo and Stanley for sharing their story and supporting the appeal throughout. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to close the appeal as quickly as we have. We can’t wait to welcome the whole family back into the hospital once our new playground is revealed!”