Open Day, December 18
Over 200 friends, fund-raisers, donors, staff and patients came to Birmingham on December 18 to admire the finished TCT unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. The day was a huge success, and everyone was bowled over by the design, the facilities and the atmosphere.
The new unit is light, spacious and welcoming, with many fun features that make it feel quite unlike a normal hospital ward. In the Den patients can relax, chill or chat, listen to music or use computers. There are bright colours, bold murals, and even mood lighting that the patients can operate from their beds. In the social space there’s a digital juke box, pool table, plasma screen TV and games console, and kitchenette, where the youngsters can entertain friends and be as independent as possible.
At every bedside there is a laptop computer, phone and an overhead TV, complete with Sky. Bathrooms have generous walk-in showers or adaptable baths with several music channels available; and all of the fittings are stylish and top-of-the-range. Comfortable parents’ beds fold ingeniously into the wall, to be replaced by a desk in the daytime.
Visitors agreed that it feels like a rather luxurious hotel: and that future patients are going to feel pampered and cared for here, at this incredibly difficult time in their lives.
The Open Day was reported by all of the local TV, radio and press; and thanks to this and to Matthew’s new article which appeared in The Guardian on December 5 and then the Daily Mail on Boxing Day (see Links page) a flurry of new donations has come in for Laurie’s fund.
We have also received various new offers for fund-raising, ranging from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, to running the Brighton Marathon, to a gift of several Steiff teddy bears for auction. The fund-raising is definitely going to carry on. The more Laurie’s fund can donate towards the £2.5 million unit in Birmingham, the more TCT will have available for its new units elsewhere.
The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc
We were mystified by some donations that started appearing on our Justgiving page in support of ‘Steve and Janet’ on the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. We had no idea who or what this was about, until Steve Brammar wrote to explain:
“My wife (Janet) and I and our friend (Antony) attempted the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in late August. The UTMB is a race which starts and finishes in Chamonix, France, and circles Mont Blanc, covering 166km and crossing into Italy and Switzerland before returning to France.
“It’s a fantastic event with amazing support in the local towns and villages and incredibly beautiful scenery. It’s pretty hilly though and allows only 46 hours to complete the course. In fact Antony finished the event in 45 hours and 4 minutes.
“I pulled out after 23 hours at the 94km mark, suffering from various ailments, including nasty blisters and lack of the mental toughness needed to walk through our second night on the trails. Janet pulled out at the same time to make sure I was OK. Despite my failure we all had a very memorable time (and took some lovely pictures). I suspect Janet and I will be back for another go next year.
“We chose to try to raise money for Laurie’s fund because we were very moved by the article which appeared in the Guardian, and because the cause is so worthwhile.”
Steve Brammar, Antony Wyatt and Janet Ng (from Britain, Australia and Hong Kong originally) are all lawyers now based in Hong Kong. We are amazed and touched that Laurie’s story reached them on the other side of the world, and that they undertook this challenge for his fund. Many, many thanks.
Over to you
Over-by-Over, the cult internet Test match commentary on The Guardian website, started putting out their own merchandise to coincide with the Final Ashes Test of 2009 at The Oval. The Over-by-Over boys (led by Sean Ingle, Rob Smyth and Andy Bull) have been great supporters of the Laurie Engel Fund, and designer David Horn has very kindly offered to donate all profits to us. Feel free to support this effort.
Super Smash Brothers Tournament, Bethesda, Maryland, June 2009
James Roach and Scott Konner, two of Laurie’s old classmates, put on a video game tournament at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, on a special day that the school sets aside for fund-raisers. Participants paid to play the Super Smash Brothers game on a huge screen in the auditorium while over 500 students watched. For a day James and Scott were BMOC’s (Big Men on Campus).
James says: “It was the most popular event at school that day. I was very pleased with the turnout. I know it is something Laurie would have enjoyed.”
The tournament raised $92 for Laurie’s fund. Many thanks to James and Scott for remembering Laurie in this very appropriate and ingenious way.
Orleton’s got the X Factor
A fantastic evening’s entertainment was put on in Orleton, near Leominster, by Ivan Miletitch and Bev Jenkins. The first half was a talent show, with musicians of all ages and styles, ranging from folk to heavy rock, and from Elvis to Flanders and Swann. The local amateur dramatic society, OGGLE, which sponsored the event, had set up impressive sound and lighting systems; and there was a serious panel of judges, and even a clapometer, to help select the winners.
Two local bands, Roving Crows and Monkey’s Uncle, were guests for the second half. The profits donated to Laurie’s fund amounted to more than £400. Congratulations to the winner, guitarist Joe Vowles, and many many thanks to Ivan, Bev, MC Paul O’Neill and everyone who played a part.
The Cwmbach Quire
The Cwmbach Quire, specialising in West Gallery, Shape Note and other “rumbustuous and rustic” types of unaccompanied singing, made a reputation for itself far beyond the boundaries of Herefordshire. One of its twelve members, Mark Ewins, is a teacher at Fairfield High School, where he taught Laurie ; and over the past four years the Quire has raised money for Laurie’s fund at numerous events. We were enchanted by their performance at Dulas Court at Christmas 2008.
The Quire has now disbanded – several of its members are performing as The Village Quire instead – and Mark presented us with a cheque for nearly £800 for the fund.
Back to School Week at M and M Direct
The internet clothing company, M and M Direct, based in Leominster, which has a long-standing relationship with Teenage Cancer Trust, recently organised a week of fund-raising for Laurie’s fund among its 2000 employees. The theme was ‘Back to School’, and many members of staff gallantly turned up for work in school uniform. School dinners were also provided, and there was a raffle with handsome prizes provided by local firms.
Two particularly brave colleagues, Jaimie Phillips from the finance department and Louise Matthews from the call centre, even made a sky dive. Louise said afterwards: ‘It was nerve-wracking, exhilarating and very, very fast!’
Altogether the week’s activities raised a fantastic £3,117.80 for Laurie’s fund. Many many thanks to all concerned, and especially to Anna Roby-Welford for organizing the campaign.
Brimfield’s Got Talent, July 2009
For the third successive year, Zoe Collett, now a student at Hereford Sixth Form College, organised a talent show in her village in north Herefordshire, Brimfield. She was assisted as before by her mother, Sue, grandmother, Carol, and sisters Zara and Zita, as well as many neighbours and friends. This year for the first time Matthew was delighted to be able to attend the show, and say a few words about Laurie and the fund.
As well as these summer shows, Zoe has also taken to arranging gigs for young bands in Hereford, together with her fellow student Rob Smith. She has now handed over a grand total of nearly £1200 to Laurie’s fund from all her enterprises this year.
Well done, Zoe, and thank you to everyone who took part.
At the end of May
Morgan Lloyd, son of our good friends Sonia and Richard, celebrated his 21st birthday in Ewyas Harold Memorial Hall. He and his partner Natasha asked their guests to make donations to Laurie’s fund instead of bringing presents. Thanks to everyone’s generosity a total of £370 was raised. Many thanks, Morgan and Natasha, for this very kind gesture.
2009 Laurie Engel Football Tournament
The fourth Laurie Engel Football Tournament was held at Michaelchurch Escley on Saturday 23 May to mark what should have been Laurie’s 17th birthday on the 28th. The event has become a popular fixture in the local calendar; and we are touched that so many people, young and old, come along to remember Laurie in this way. Playing football with his friends at the Escleyside Youth Club was one of Laurie’s favourite things in the world.
It was a beautifully sunny day, and more than 40 players between the ages of 8 and 17 took part, including many of Laurie’s old school friends. As always the matches between the mixed-age teams were played in an intensely competitive but friendly spirit.
Gareth Jones as ever organised the whole event, and ran the barbecue, and Joy provided non-stop teas. Burgers were kindly donated by the Gwatkins at Abbey Dore Farm Shop, sausages by Mailes the butchers and rolls by Greggs the bakers. Steve Herington did the maths, putting balanced teams together and keeping score; and Andy Manning refereed. Alan McCardle prepared the pitch, and Mountain Mayhem donated the medals.
A wonderful array of raffle prizes was donated by: Fodder of Hereford; the Bridge Inn, Michaelchurch, the Crown Inn, Longtown, Frasers Farm Shop, Shepherds Ice Cream, Dore Valley Chocolates, Tesco, Bookers, Seven Stars Guest House, Hay, Andy and Carol Manning, Phil Stewart, Helen Wood-Cole, Carol Bush, Maggie Papas and Malcolm Lewis. Special thanks to Ellie Gilbert-Smith and Robert Jones for selling a record number of raffle tickets.
Altogether the tournament raised £500 for Laurie’s fund. Many, many thanks to organisers, players and sponsors for making it such a fantastic success.
Laurie’s ten year-old sister Vika swam 50 lengths of the main swimming pool in Hereford on Sunday March 22 and raised more than £1000. It took her 40 minutes and she would probably have gone on to swim 100 if we hadn’t taken pity on her sponsors and hauled her out. It was all her idea and she did brilliantly. If you would like to sponsor Vika retrospectively, please donate via our JustGiving page here.