Boris Johnson has become the latest high-profile backer of The Independent’s Christmas Appeal in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
The London Mayor and Tory MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip urged readers to use their New Year’s resolutions to raise money for the “truly awe-inspiring” hospital. He is backing the Give It Up for GOSH fundraising initiative, which has seen readers across the UK pledge to give up a luxury for January in exchange for donations to the Give to GOSH campaign.
Mr Johnson has pledged to give up carbohydrates for the first month of 2016, following in the footsteps of GOSH staff, patients’ families, hospital supporters and former patients. He said: “Whether it is a delicious slice of bread, a hearty bowl of pasta or some scrumptious roast potatoes, I am certainly going to miss my carbohydrates. But that is a small price to pay for supporting the truly awe-inspiring Great Ormond Street Hospital and helping to give seriously ill children the best chance in life.”
Mr Johnson’s pledge is the latest celebrity endorsement of Give It Up for GOSH. The television presenter Gabby Logan has already vowed to give up sweet treats, while the England rugby player Danny Care is going without fizzy drinks. Mr Johnson added: “Whatever your New Year’s resolution, I’d like to urge [you] to give something up for Great Ormond Street and help this most worthy of causes.”
Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP for Tooting who is his party’s candidate in this year’s London mayoral race, has given up chocolate. He said: “I know it will be tough because I enjoy a chocolate bar now and then. But I’m determined to succeed in overcoming my craving and my sweet tooth because this is such a good cause.”
Give It Up for GOSH is supported by the fundraising website JustGiving and readers can join in by setting up their own JustGiving page. Getting started is simple: choose one thing to give up, then follow the link below, where JustGiving will help you to create a web page and encourage friends, family and colleagues to donate.
As well as harnessing the fundraising power of New Year’s resolutions, Give It Up for GOSH also shows solidarity with young patients at the hospital, who often have to give up favourite foods or activities as part of their treatment. These include Ralph Frost, a six-year-old who has to stick to a very restricted diet while he waits for a kidney transplant.
Meet the patients and doctors of GOSH
Meet the patients and doctors of GOSH
1/9 Elliott Livingstone
Two-year-old Elliott is a “cheeky” little boy who has a Thomas the Tank Engine sticker on his Berlin heart machine, which has kept him alive since his own heart failed eight months ago. Elliott has two tubes pumping blood around his tiny body. It keeps him alive but the machine has left him confined to the wards of Great Ormond Street Hospital until a new heart is found
2/9 Melissa Strickland
As the ward sister on Koala Ward, Melissa Strickland leads a nursing team with the challenging job of looking after children with craniofacial and neurological conditions. “You have to have all the skills and knowledge to do this job but personally for me you cannot do it unless you have passion but also compassion,” she said. “You don’t get used to the sad side of things but you do learn to manage it.”
3/9 Amy Willis
Amy Willis carries a discreet black medical bag everywhere she goes. It contains the cutting-edge HeartWare device that is keeping her alive. A smaller, more advanced version of the Berlin artificial heart, it was fitted in April after she was emergency airlifted to GOSH from Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool. The device means that 14-year-old Amy can be home in Flintshire this Christmas while remaining on the heart transplant waiting list. She is doing well but 15 per cent of patients with a HeartWare device or Berlin heart die while waiting for a new heart, so money raised by the appeal will also go to help researchers identify ways to keep children alive while they await transplant
4/9 Myra Bluebond-Langner
Professor Myra Bluebond-Langner represents the vital work of the Louis Dundas Centre for Children’s Palliative Care, GOSH’s world-class centre dedicated to research and care for children with life-limiting illnesses. The LDC is named in honour of Louis Dundas, a four-year-old boy who died in “unspeakable pain” after suffering a brain tumour in April 2008. Its aim is to ensure that no child suffers unnecessarily in their final days. Money raised from The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal will go to fund the team’s work to manage pain, and also fund vital research into palliative care in children across the whole of the UK. Professor Bluebond-Langner, who heads the research, said: “Paediatric palliative care is a relatively new field where practice has outstripped research. We look to change that.”
5/9 Finella Craig
Together with with Professor Myra Bluebond-Langner, Dr Finella Craig represents the vital work of the Louis Dundas Centre for Children’s Palliative Care, GOSH’s world-class centre dedicated to research and care for children with life-limiting illnesses. The LDC is named in honour of Louis Dundas, a four-year-old boy who died in “unspeakable pain” after suffering a brain tumour in April 2008. Its aim is to ensure that no child suffers unnecessarily in their final days. “One of the worst experiences for a family is to witness their child in pain and discomfort, and for them to feel totally powerless to do anything about it,” said Dr Craig, a consultant in paediatric palliative medicine at GOSH since 2002. Money raised from The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal will go to fund the team’s work to manage pain, and also fund vital research into palliative care in children across the whole of the UK.
6/9 Rowan Pethard
Like most little boys, Rowan Pethard loves playing football. At the start of 2015 the seven-year-old Spurs fan baffled his doctors in Hemel Hempstead with a string of coughs, colds, tummy bugs, aches, pains and rashes. It wasn’t until quite late on that doctors discovered he had leukaemia. He spent two days in intensive care while he had emergency chemo. He has two years of follow-up treatment ahead. “He’s amazing, a little superhero,” his mum said. “It makes it easier for his father and I and his brother to cope.”
7/9 Martin Elliott
Paediatric heart and lung surgeon Martin Elliott, 64, is one of the longest serving doctors at GOSH, leading groundbreaking research and treating thousands of patients over the past 30 years. His work has bridged the gap between surgery and research with skills ranging from heart-bypass surgery to correcting congenital lung disorders.
8/9 Ralph Frost
For Ralph the hardest thing about having to live at GOSH while he waits for a new kidney isn’t missing his toys. He has plenty of those and can terrorise the nurses by pushing his little red motorbike down the corridors of Eagle Ward. The hardest thing for the six-year-old is battling not to cry out during his nightly dialysis sessions. “It really hurts,” he said. “But the other kids are sleeping and I don’t want to wake them up.” Ralph suffers from nephrotic syndrome and is currently waiting for a kidney from his father, Nick. He’s called the kidney “Chase” and his parents, who have been trained to operate his dialysis machine, hope to be home by Christmas
9/9 Lynsey Steele
The strongest praise for Lynsey Steele, 33, comes from the parents of the children she helps. “The children here wouldn’t get by without Lynsey,” said Ralph’s mother Amie Frost. “If she wasn’t here then we’d have cracked up.” Lynsey’s role, which is funded by the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and will be supported by The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal, is to help children play and relax, but also to have the difficult conversations explaining their treatment
Martin Elliott, a professor of cardiothoracic surgery, said: “For more than 30 years, I have had the great honour of caring for children from across the world at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Unfortunately, many of them will have to make great sacrifices, giving up things that most children take for granted, in order to help them get better.
“For instance, a child waiting for a transplant can no longer run in the playground or play football; or a patient in isolation misses out on being in school or seeing their friends. The spirit and bravery of these patients never ceases to amaze me. I know it will be incredibly special for them to know that, this January, people across the country will be standing with them and giving up something as part of the Give to Gosh appeal.
“This show of support is fantastic, and the donations made for your sacrifice will help us to continue to help children thrive.”
Anne-Marie Huby, managing director and co-founder of JustGiving, which is backing the fundraising initiative, said: "It's wonderful to see so many people coming together for the young patients and amazing hospital staff at GOSH. From the Mayor of London's commitment to go a month without carbs to those of you giving up sugar, dairy, chocolate and all manner of lovely things, this is a perfect way to show your support and make a real difference for a very worthy cause.
If you Give to GOSH, your donation will be matched by the Government, doubling its amount. To donate go to: http://ind.pn/1Mydxqt