Staff, pupils and parents from Chepstow House School have raised £243,922 for the Paddington hospital’s More Smiles Appeal, which aims to raise at least £2 million to expand and renovate the existing unit.
The school in Notting Hill has more than doubled its original target of raising £100,000 in a year. Headteacher Angela Barr said it had been a team effort.
“We are absolutely amazed by the amount we have raised. The children, parents and staff have done a brilliant job,” she said.
“Raising money for the children’s intensive care unit means a lot to our pupils because the unit could touch their lives. Choosing the More Smiles Appeal as our charity of the year has helped our pupils understand how fortunate they are.”
Every year, around 400 patients are cared for in the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s but it also turns away hundreds more critically ill children because it does not have enough beds. This means children may have to be transferred hundreds of miles for treatment.
Last year, the unit had to turn away 233 children, more than half the number actually admitted.
The More Smiles Appeal, led by Imperial College Healthcare Charity and COSMIC, aims to create a new unit with 15 beds, almost doubling the current number, allowing more than 200 extra children to be cared for each year.
There will also be new equipment, a dedicated parents' room and a private room allowing space for doctors and nurses to provide emotional support and care to families whose children are very seriously ill.
The money raised by the pupils and the school’s parents group, known as the Friends of Chepstow House, will be used to create the new parents’ room and a high dependency room.
Some of the staff, parents and pupils visited the hospital on 21 June for a tour of the current unit to see where their money will make a difference.
Nine-year-old pupil Jahan said: “I am really proud of how much we have raised and it’s great to help other people. I am looking forward to coming back in two years when the work is finished to see the results of our hard work.”
Pupils raised money through a readathon, chore challenge and fun days, and some of the children also organised their own ways of raising money such as creating comic books and holding bake sales.
Nine-year-old pupil Maya, who held a bake sale at the school gate, said: “I baked cupcakes and made fruit kebabs to help us reach our target. I have really enjoyed helping the charity and it’s been fun seeing how much we have raised. It’s going to a really good cause.”
The appeal’s fundraising and communications director, Josephine Watterson, thanked everyone who had contributed.
She said: “The More Smiles Appeal will help to create a world class environment that matches our world class care. Our appeal goes way beyond what an overstretched NHS can provide – giving the best environment for critically ill children and worried parents.
“We would like to thank Chepstow House School for their generous support, which will help us save hundreds more children’s lives.”