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Supporting sick children in Bristol

431. Paula Banks

A mother of two from Bristol who has inspired over 100 people to raise just over £130,000 to help provide a better hospital environment at Bristol Children’s Hospital Children’s Cancer Unit.

Paula Banks, 49, was inspired to start raising the money after her son Jack was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia in November 2003 aged just 4. His battle with cancer included many rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and two bone marrow transplants, one from his brother Joe and a second from an unrelated donor. But, during his second transplant, Jack developed pneumonia and died aged 9 on 23 July 2008, with his mum, dad and brother by his side.

 Money for Jack’s Fund has been raised through running, swimming, cycling and skydive events, a fancy dress ladies night, garden parties and band and quiz nights. At the end of 2014 Jack’s Fund reached a target of £100k to fund a playroom and integrated conservatory on the new Children’s Cancer Unit, a special place where children can spend time away from their hospital beds. During 2015 they raised an additional £10,000 towards the refurbishment of the kitchen, providing a better level of catering for the patients.

Jack’s Fund also set up ‘Captain Jack’s Treasure Chests’, three ‘piratey’ toy boxes from which children can choose a special treat when facing scary and unpleasant medical procedures and Paula’s ongoing fundraising provides a never ending supply of toys for the treasure chests which she aims to continue forever. The money has provided 2 Wii Fits to encourage children to get out of bed, helping towards their physical recovery following a bone marrow transplant. It has also provided emergency palliative care bags enabling families to provide end of life care at home.

Paula’s next project for the Children’s Cancer Unit is to refurbish the 10 isolation rooms where bone marrow transplant patients spend many months recovering. Paula hopes Jack’s Fund can help towards the cost of this and her latest initiative is a 50:50:50 challenge; 50 people pledging £50 by her 50th birthday on 5 October 2016. She already has over 30 people signed up, all of which will be taking on different challenges.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“With Jack’s Star Tribute Fund Paula has raised a fantastic amount of money and created a wonderful legacy in memory of her son, Jack. The toys and facilities she has provided for Bristol Children’s Hospital provide invaluable moments of joy in the lives of sick children. For these children and their families, Paula truly is a Point of Light.”

Paula said:

“It is an absolute honour to receive this in my son’s memory and I am so grateful to all those who have supported Jack’s Fund, this award recognises all their hard work.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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