Sponsor a Sibling
993. Laura Rolph-Wills
Laura Rolph-Wills, from Colchester, is the founder of ‘Sponsor a Sibling’, a unique initiative which distributes small gifts and treats to the brothers and sisters of very ill children.
Laura is mum to Harry, who has a life-limiting neurodegenerative condition, and his brother Joshua. She saw how little attention siblings of ill children can receive at times and wanted to do something to support their emotional wellbeing. Inspired by the ‘52 Lives’ initiative created by Point of Light #300 Jaime Thurston, which shares stories of an individual in need of help online, Laura and her team of volunteers choose one sibling each week to support. They share the child’s story on social media and encourage sponsors to donate gifts which are suggested by the children’s parents. As well as smaller gifts such as outdoor games and DVDs, the group also provide holiday breaks and support for bereaved siblings.
In a personal letter to Laura, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“With ‘Sponsor a Sibling’, you are bringing comfort to the brothers and sisters of seriously ill children. You know from personal experience what a positive impact the gifts and treats you provide have on children coping with so much at such a young age. I wish you every success as you continue to grow this wonderful initiative.”
“To be told I have been awarded a Points of Light award has come as a huge surprise. I have seen some truly inspirational people awarded previously and feel extremely honoured to be recognised.
“From an initial small idea, I would never have dreamt that it would have grown this immensely over the past two years. Never did we realise at the beginning of this venture, the significant need for additional support for so many affected siblings. Kindness spreads kindness and if we can make a ‘Super Sibling’ smile and just spend a few moments being proud of themselves, we have achieved what we aim to do.
“I could not do this without the help and support of my wonderful husband and my beautiful friend, our trustees and most importantly not to forget our wonderful supporters who really are the people that make this possible. Of course not forgetting my two inspirational little boys who have made me the person I am today.”