My name is Rhys, a first time dad blogging about my adventures and experiences of being a parent. [email protected]

Flintshire family feature in BBC Lifeline Appeal

Yvette, Jonathan and Gracie Mellalieu will feature in the BBC Lifeline Appeal for The Sick Children’s Trust.

A family from Flintshire is featuring in a BBC programme raising awareness about The Sick Children’s Trust, the charity that supports families with a seriously ill child in hospital by providing a warm, welcoming place to stay close to the ward and giving them one less thing to worry about.

The Mellalieu family, from Mold, were supported by The Sick Children’s Trust in 2021. Mum Yvette and dad Jonathan stayed at the charity’s Guilford Street House, one of its ten ‘Homes from Home’ when daughter Gracie needed a pioneering medical treatment in London, some 250 miles away from their North Wales home.

The Mellalieus are one of three families featuring in the BBC Lifeline Appeal, with families from Norfolk and Northern Ireland also explaining how The Sick Children’s Trust supported them while their children were in hospital, many hours away from their own homes.

The appeal, which is being presented by Strictly Come Dancing judge Anton Du Beke, was aired on BBC Two on Tuesday morning, and will be broadcast for a second time this coming Saturday (17 September) at 1.45pm on BBC One. The BBC Lifeline Appeal is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer for the next three weeks.

Fifteen-year-old Gracie has a rare life-limiting disease called Morquio Syndrome, which comes with numerous complications including stunted growth. As it grew inside her small frame, Gracie’s airway was becoming increasingly kinked and narrow, restricting the airflow to her lungs and needed surgery to fix it.

During Gracie’s operation and recovery, Yvette and Jonathan were given a place to stay at The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’, Guilford Street House. Being able to stay just minutes away from Gracie’s hospital bedside removed the financial stress of expensive hotels and allowed them to give Gracie all the support she needed. For teenager Gracie, knowing that mum and dad could be there throughout her stay proved invaluable for her own mental health and wellbeing. Mum Yvette said:

“Guilford Street House meant no hotels and no travelling. We could be as close as possible to our daughter. When we arrived at the ‘Home from Home’ we were overwhelmed with gratitude. In fact, both my husband, Jonathan, and I had a little cry after we were shown around. We couldn’t believe how lovely and homely it was, and how COVID safe it was too. Guilford Street House helped us beyond words to be able to stay close to Gracie, and for Gracie to know that if she needed us we would be there. It made her feel much calmer.”

Gracie was just the second person in the UK to undergo this ground-breaking procedure. Her recovery was expected to take three weeks, but within a matter of days Gracie was back home in Wales. Gracie said:

“When I went for my surgery, it really helped me to know that if I needed my parents they would be there by my side in intensive care in minutes. So I would like to say a huge thank you to The Sick Children’s Trust for keeping my parents by my side.”

This year The Sick Children’s Trust is celebrating 40 years of keeping families together. Relying entirely on voluntary contributions to keep their ‘Homes from Home’ running, it costs them approximately £40 to support one family for one night. With a calm place to rest and a friendly ear to listen just a stone’s throw from their child’s hospital ward, The Sick Children’s Trust provides so much more than just a roof over their heads.

Anton Du Beke will present the BBC Lifeline Appeal for The Sick Children’s Trust

Since the charity was founded in 1982 it has helped more than 73,000 families from all over the country by providing a warm, welcoming, clean, and comfortable place to stay free of charge. Speaking about the BBC Lifeline Appeal, presenter Anton Du Beke said:

“I’m truly honoured to support this appeal for The Sick Children’s Trust, which is celebrating its 40th Anniversary this year. As a dad to twins I can only imagine what it must be like for families thrown into chaos when their child suddenly becomes ill. But this charity provides a crucial service to families that have a seriously ill child in hospital, with their ‘Homes from Home’ being so much more than just a place to stay close to the ward.

“They are a sanctuary for parents and carers at the most distressing of times, a warm, welcoming place to get some much-needed rest with staff on hand to provide a shoulder to cry on when things become too much to bear. By removing the prospect of long car journeys or expensive hotels, the ‘Homes from Home’ are worth their weight in gold to the families they support. I hope this appeal will help them fulfil their wish to support thousands more families in the years ahead.”