Jo Beasley spoke of her experience staying at our Ronald McDonald House in Oxford at our annual Oxford Gala Dinner this year. Her story is a powerful and emotive one and we wanted to share it with you below.
Guest Blogger: Jo Beasley
A home from home.
Comforting, caring, homely, a shoulder to cry on,
Express your feelings of concern, delight or anxiety.
A warm meal, clean clothes, a cup of tea,
A normality away from the chaos, machines and numerous tests.
A comfortable bed, a phone to the ward by the side of you and...quiet!
Just a few very important things the Ronald McDonald House offers and for all who stay there, the staff and facilities are a true Godsend.
Very unexpectedly in April 2007 around 11pm I found myself in an ambulance with my son Jamie who was only a few days old. Jamie was in an incubator and extremely ill, rushing from the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading to John Radcliffe Children’s Hospital, Oxford.
On arrival Jamie was rushed onto the ward and prepped for theatre, doctors and nurses doing their jobs so efficiently. I was asked to sign consent forms and then before I knew it Jamie was whisked away with the surgical team. All we hoped was that he would be saved. The next few hours, in fact days and weeks went in a blur. It was all so unexpected and surreal.
For almost two weeks I slept on the sofa at the end of Jamie's hospital bay, the nurses were great and looked after us, taking amazing care of Jamie and giving me clean sheets so that I could make a little bed for myself on the sofa.
One day I had a visit from House Manager Michelle, she explained that if I wanted, there was a room available in the Ronald McDonald House and that she could help me move in and show me around. Michelle was absolutely amazing, so caring, she could not do more to help, although I wanted to ask, "What is the Ronald McDonald House!?" Later I found out that the House had only opened that January but since opening had been full every day of parents in the same situation as myself.
The House providing a safe haven away from the ward, to be able to stay so close to your child but to have a bit of down time. Also very importantly it meant that my eldest son Charlie could also visit his brother, stay with me in the house and we could be together. Having a sick child in hospital is really hard but not being able to be with Charlie was also hard, he was only two at the time. The House gave us that opportunity.
Over the next year and a half after Jamie was first admitted to John Radcliffe we were in and out of hospital, 10 operations later and many a stay in the Ronald McDonald House, it became our second home, somewhere we were happy and comfortable even when it was just so challenging down on the ward.
For all that the House gave us, I felt like I needed to give back in return. With the help of my dance school and the generous parents and students, we collect money at the end of each term and during our biannual shows.
Last year we held a fundraiser for the house where students from the dance school put on a cabaret show. We had a great disco party with a raffle, which was all a huge success.
It was made all the more important when only days before the show, a little seven year old girl and student from my dance school was rushed to John Radcliffe after a road traffic accident. I was there on the ward visiting her when a room became available in the House for her mum, the look on her face when she saw the House was just priceless.
My family and Elements Dance School will continue to raise awareness and funds for the House and support in any way we can. I will never forget the kindness shown to us, and the relief of having a ‘home away from home’.