Community rallies for young Malvern cancer patient
A Malvern family has spoken of its ‘enormous gratitude’ after members of the public banded together to organise a surprise birthday party for their seriously ill son.
Characters from the children’s television programme Ben 10 were among the special guests at a surprise early birthday party held on Friday 13 February for young brain tumour patient Lewis Loader
The party for Lewis, whose tenth birthday is in March, was held at Ronald McDonald House Birmingham – the ‘free home away from home’ accommodation for families who have children being treated at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
The idea for the surprise birthday party came from staff at the 61 bedroom Ronald McDonald House where Lewis’ parents, Becky Loader and Shane Smith, have been staying since 2011 with their children Michael, eight, Chloe, six, Shane, two, and five month-old James.
With the blessing of Lewis’ parents, staff at the Ronald McDonald House issued a call for help with the party to friends and relatives on Facebook – and plans snowballed from there.
House Manager Libby Aston explains: “Several staff members posted messages on their personal Facebook pages explaining that they wanted to organise a surprise party for a poorly boy and asked if their friends, or anyone they knew, could help.
“The reaction was phenomenal. Within hours we were inundated with offers of help and, on the day, we were able to put on a truly spectacular and memorable party for Lewis and his family. We had candy floss machines, face painting, four birthday cakes, lots of volunteers and a disco – just to give a few examples!”
Lewis’ fight with cancer started in May 2011 when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour after collapsing at school. He has since undergone surgery and several bouts of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
His long treatment means that his family has become very familiar with Ronald McDonald House Birmingham – staying at the free accommodation for many months at a time, including over three Christmases in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
Speaking about Ronald McDonald House Birmingham and the surprise party for Lewis, his mother Becky Loader says:
“Ronald McDonald House Birmingham has made a huge difference for us. We’ve been able to stay together as a family during Lewis’ long treatment without the worry of paying for accommodation or making the round-trip from Malvern
“We’re always amazed that staff go to so much effort to really look after us. This party was the icing on the cake. Lewis was delighted and we are enormously grateful that so many people, mostly complete strangers, rallied together to make it possible.”
For more information about Ronald McDonald House Birmingham visit www.rmhc.org.uk/birmingham.
To speak to someone, for more pictures or further information please contact:
Alex Goldup, T. 020 7250 8291 M. 07791 765 915
Notes to Editors
- Photography credit: Penny Burgess
- Ronald McDonald House Birmingham is run by Ronald McDonald House Charities - an independent charity that provides free ‘home away from home’ accommodation at hospitals across the UK. It enables seriously ill children to have their families close by when they are undergoing treatment and allows them to maintain a degree of normal family life.
- There are 14 Ronald McDonald Houses in the UK and in 2014 they helped support over 6,000 families with children in hospital.
- Ronald McDonald House Charities relies on the generosity of supporters and fundraisers, including McDonald’s customers, without whom it would be unable to continue its work.
- The Charity was founded in 1989 and has been keeping families together for more than 25 years.