Families of children receiving treatment at Leeds’ life-saving heart unit will soon be able to stay in refurbished home-from-home style accommodation thanks to an incredible donation of £29,000 from the region’s Freemasons.
The Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, which supports the congenital heart unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital, has been awarded the huge sum to foot the bill for a much-needed revamp of its hospital accommodation in the Brotherton Wing at Leeds General Infirmary.
The money was donated by the West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd – the charitable arm of the Freemasons of Yorkshire West Riding after one member of its Otley branch, Carl Woodier, 59, saw how much the charity had helped his granddaughter, Bella.
Bella, who was born in July 2020, had to have open heart surgery at the unit over Christmas after she was diagnosed with several holes in her heart – and she faces more surgery in the future.
The Yorkshire Masonic Charities meet the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund to hand over their incredible donation. Pictured front row are David Pratt and Sharon Miller the CEO of the CHSF, with, from left: Lisa Williams, community fundraising manager, Andrew Cole, Carl Woodier holdiing Bella Rhodes, John Golden and Andrew Simpson. Picture by Simon Hulme
Carl, of Otley, said watching what Bella and his family were going through compelled him to reach out for support from the Freemason community – but he was blown away by the amount they agreed to donate.
He said: “We went through Christmas and came out the other side which is tremendous and having seen the support that the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund gave – it was a very very difficult period and they were there. I know we are in Covid times and it was distanced but they were there, providing the help and support.
“I know charitable giving is such a hallmark of Freemasonry and I thought there must be something we can do for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund.”
After completing a lengthy ‘business case’ to the Provincial Grand Masters Fund for charity cash, he found out in March that the application had been successful – and for the whole £29,000.
All charitable grants awarded by the Freemasons have been raised through donations from members themselves.
He said: “I can’t tell you how proud I am and pleased that Freemasonry can make such a difference to the unit. It’s tremendous that we can put this into the community.”
The money will be used to refurbish the seven family accommodation rooms – where parents stay when a child is receiving treatment – on the Brotherton Wing to create what CHSF officials say will be a “home from home feel” with a “warm, inviting environment which supports positive wellbeing”.
The renovations will include new furniture, flooring and a complete redecoration.
David Pratt, the provincial grand master of the Freemasons’ Province of Yorkshire West Riding, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to support the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and the fantastic work it does to enhance the quality of care and support provided to children undergoing surgery, and their families.
“These funds will enable the completion of the refurbishment of the parents’ accommodation at the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit, which we hope will help make this facility as comfortable as possible for the families who need to stay there.”
Sharon Milner, the CEO of CHSF said: “We are hugely grateful to the Freemasons of Yorkshire West Riding for their incredible donation.
“It is vitally important for parents to have somewhere comfortable and inviting to recharge while their poorly baby or child is being treated at hospital.
“We estimate this renovation project will benefit hundreds of families over the next five years, helping to make their experience in hospital a more positive one.”
*YEP’s Have a Heart campaign
The Yorkshire Evening Post launched a Have a Heart campaign in early 2020 to help the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) reach its £1m target for donations that year.
The Fund raises provides vital support to the congenital heart unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital.
Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic hit, CHSF was forced to issue an urgent plea for donations after losing a “significant portion” of its yearly income.
Visit chsf.org.uk/donate to give a one-off donation or to set up a regular, direct debit donation.
Or pay cheques to: Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at 3 Oxford Place, Leeds, LS1 3AX