Charity helps sick children have vital fun days out

Tabitha holding a toasted marshmallow
The highlight of Tabitha's day was toasting marshmallows [BBC]

A charity that provides fun days out for children with serious illnesses is particularly important during the cost of living crisis, parents have said.

Twelve-year-old Poppy-Rose attended a recent event hosted by the Wish Fund charity in Llangrannog, Ceredigion, her first day out since completing 18 months of chemotherapy, her mother Hannah said.

"Poppy-Rose has struggled over the last couple of years, and this has been what she needed," said Hannah.

The free days out provide a crucial service to families with children with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.

Families often have limited incomes because one of the parents has to act as a full-time carer.

Holidays and day trips can also be prohibitively expensive, because of the special set of needs sometimes required for the children.

"Days like this are so important to Poppy and to us as a family. Having a day like this, we feel very lucky," Hannah said after her daughter had completed a day of skiing, go-karting and horse riding.

Kate Ellen Skalka, from Llanon near Aberystwyth, also attended the event with her three-year-old daughter Tabitha, who was born with a tumour and has had a liver transplant.

She also had chemotherapy before and after the transplant.

"Days out are getting expensive, and you are always looking for things that are free, like hiking or going to the beach," she said.

Among the highlights for Tabitha and the Skalka family was the chance to toast marshmallows, Kate said, describing it as a "nice day out".

"There’s things that she can do, and importantly for us there are lots of facilities in case she is feeling sick," she said.

Poppy-Rose recently completed 18 months of chemotherapy [BBC]

As well as arranging family days out and group activities in the Hywel Dda health board area, which covers west Wales, the Wish Fund also provides toys for therapeutic play.

Tara Nickerson, the organisation’s fundraising manager, said there had "never been a greater need" for its services.

"The high cost of living is affecting most families, but those supported by palliative care can be under even more financial pressure as often one of the parents is a full-time carer," she said.

Rebeka Rogers, a pharmacist in paediatric palliative care with the Hywel Dda health board, also spoke of the benefits of the charity’s services.

"Some of the young people here won't have been out for a while and will have missed school because of having treatment - so a day out like today is great for them," she said.