“Hearing that work on the new ward has started fills me with joy”

161 stunning sculptures have been capturing the hearts and imagination of Sheffield as The Children’s Hospital Charity’s Bear trail got underway.

The Bears of Sheffield sculpture trail is supporting the fundraising drive to build a new Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. One person who knows better than most the difference the new facilities would make is Andrew Davies from Chesterfield.

Andrew was 13 years old when he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) in September 2012. He underwent chemotherapy and a lifesaving bone marrow transplant, spending 25 days in isolation. The care he received at Sheffield Children’s Hospital ensured that within three months Andrew could resume his life once again and return to school.

Upon his recovery, driven by his gratitude for the care he received and the conviction that the environment could be improved for others in a similar situation, he poured his energy into fundraising, to pay back the £150,000 cost to the NHS of his bone marrow transplant.

His money, raised for The Children’s Hospital Charity, was divided between the ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital which saved his life and leukaemia research, to ensure future children in the same situation can access the very best care.

Building work is now underway on the new ward and the Bears of Sheffield are set to play a crucial role in ensuring the fundraising target for the project is met.

“Hearing that work has started on the new Cancer and Leukaemia ward fills me with joy. Sheffield Children’s Hospital saved my life and the ward was where the unbelievable care I received took place.

“Knowing that children in the future will be treated in facilities that match the high quality of care they receive is heart-warming. Knowing that the money we raised will play a part in that makes the whole process all the more special.

“The new facilities will give children a whole new outlook on visiting the hospital. Not only will children be comforted by seeing the lovely staff who are helping them, but they will soon be in a calming, brighter environment that will put them at ease as they are being treated.”

As well as a larger, brighter space, there will be a bigger and better playroom situated in the heart of the ward. It will maximise the view of Weston Park, making patients feel connected to the outside whilst they are getting better and also create space for a parent to sleep more comfortably alongside their child.

“You really can’t underestimate the impact of having space for parents to sleep comfortably as well. Between my mum, dad and brother, someone stayed with me at the hospital every night during my treatment.

“Having that family member there reassured me every step of the way that I was going to be okay, and ensuring they get a good night’s sleep means that they can be there to emotionally support you too. I can’t tell you how much of a difference that would make!”

The new ward will also have a purpose-built, separate place for older children to break away from the ward, something Andrew highlights as being particularly important:

“I was treated at Sheffield Children’s when I was 13 and 14. I was one of the older patients at the time, with babies and toddlers being treated in the same space. That can’t be helped, of course, at a children’s hospital, but sometimes it was hard to escape a crying baby when you’re feeling unwell yourself.

“Having a designated space would provide them with those moments of respite too.”

Andrew’s fundraising continues to this day, through public speaking engagements and groups including Chesterfield Rotary Clubs and Foresters Court Chatsworth 2334, which continue to support The Children’s Hospital Charity in his honour.

As a small token of appreciation for his years of incredible support, The Children’s Hospital Charity will be recognising his work with a plaque on the new ward.

“Hearing that the fundraising work done by myself, my family and my friends will be recognised with a plaque on the ward makes me feel incredibly proud and very emotional. It’s hard to put into words how grateful I am to Sheffield Children’s for everything they’ve done for me and that’s why my fundraising journey first started.

“Everything I go on to do in life was made possible by the incredible intelligence, commitment, hard work and care of the Oncology and Haematology team on the ward. All the fundraising we did for the Charity wouldn’t have happened without them.

“I hope whenever anyone on the ward sees that plaque they see they love, care and sacrifice of the incredible doctors and nurses at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.”

Andrew, now 22, is studying a research masters in Exercise Physiology at Liverpool John Moores University. His course involves working at a local hospital, helping children in an obesity clinic.

“The Bears look incredible. To anyone looking to fundraise for the ward as part of the project, I wish you all the luck in the world. Every penny and pound you manage to pick up along the way will make a massive difference to the lives of so many children in the future.

“I know first-hand the impact fundraising can make and anyone who takes part is a hero to me.”