Son’s illness inspires dad to get on his bike for Children’s Hospital Big Appeal

A Nottingham dad whose four-year-old son was diagnosed with Leukaemia after collapsing at playgroup is gearing up for a 24-hour, 300-mile Nottingham to Edinburgh cycle challenge in July to raise money for Nottingham Children’s Hospital’s Big Appeal.

In March last year Hayden Whitehead received a call at work to say his son George was being rushed to hospital. George was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia, which immediately required blood and platelet transfusions along with chemotherapy during a two-week stay in hospital. George’s ongoing treatment involves a three-year programme of chemotherapy, weekly home visits from community nurses and frequent visits to the Children’s Hospital.

Feeling helpless in the face of his son’s diagnosis, Hayden decided to raise money for Children’s Ward E39 and for Children’s Oncology Day care where his son is being treated.  He has already raised £4,690 of his £10,000 target.

Hayden says: “Being on the ward with George and visiting Daycare Oncology unit three to four times a week has opened mine and my wife’s eyes to the fantastic work all the staff do. They are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week helping children as young as three months old battling cancer and other rare conditions and offering kind words of support and encouragement to the parents. The work they do is truly remarkable.

“We cannot change George’s diagnosis but what we can do is support the ward where these brave babies, toddlers, children, and teenagers spend so much of their time in treatment. The money we raise will go towards toys for the play areas, TVs for the bays, DVDs and games and art materials for children to be creative. It will directly impact on any child who spends time on the ward or the daycare unit, making their time in hospital a more pleasant one.”

Hayden adds: “George has been coping brilliantly with his chemotherapy and had a great Christmas and is still smiling. It’ll be a long road but our brave little trooper will fight this. Truth be told, he’s been the strong one throughout the whole ordeal!”

 Barbara Cathcart, Nottingham Hospitals Charity Chief Executive says: “We are very grateful to Hayden for his impressive fundraising activities inspired by his son’s illness which will help  improve the lives of young patients at Nottingham Children’s Hospital.

“Our Big Appeal will enable us to make a big difference to children like George and their families, so that we can continue to provide the best possible care for patients in a child friendly environment, making their experience more comfortable and with better outcomes.”

Nottingham Hospital’s Big Appeal, launched in November, aims to raise £3 million to provide better parent accommodation and new diagnostic equipment for the Children’s Hospital as well as funding ground-breaking research into childhood illnesses and creating a more child-friendly environment.