School friends on song for Eve

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YOUNGSTERS from south east Northumberland were on song for charity last week at the 130th annual Hoppings Fair on Newcastle’s Town Moor.

Calling themselves Eve’s Army in honour of their former classmate Eve Anderson, the children had been left disappointed the previous week when their chance to sing at a civic ceremony to mark the opening of the funfair was foiled by bad weather.

However, they were given a second chance last Wednesday to give their charity single, A Song for Eve, its public debut.

Introducing the choir, Sir Leonard Fenwick, chief executive of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and also a freeman of the city, said: “The freemen of Newcastle are delighted to give Eve’s Army this opportunity to give their first public performance and launch A Song for Eve here on the Hoppings live stage.”

A Song for Eve was written by musicians Tony Grey and Leon Hughes to be performed by Eve’s Army, former classmates of the nine-year-old at Stannington First School to raise awareness of – and funds for – the Newcastle Healthcare Charity’s Ready for Home Rehabilitation Fund.

Eve, of Ashington, was treated at the Great North Children’s Hospital at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary following an unexplained bleed in her brain in February last year.

The youngster was found to have an inoperable brain tumour and has now been diagnosed as suffering from a form of locked-in syndrome with complications.

Although still aware of what is going on around her, she is unable to communicate with others and is now housebound for much of the time, being virtually paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.

Eve’s plight has highlighted gaps in provision for poorly children returning home after being cared for in an acute hospital.

Around ten children a year are treated at the Great North Children’s Hospital for rare and complex neurological disorders requiring in-patient stays there lasting many months, and the process of discharging them to continue recovering at home can be difficult and costly.

That’s where the Ready for Home Rehabilitation Fund comes in. It has been set up by the Newcastle Healthcare Charity to bridge the gap between hospital and home for Eve and any other children in the North East with similar needs to her in the future.

They hope that A Song for Eve will raise awareness of the new fund and encourage well-wishers to donate via the charity’s Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/readyforhome

A free download of the song and a video are available at www.readyforhome.org

The charity’s chairman of trustees, Ken Grey, said: “We are so grateful to the freemen of the city of Newcastle and Newcastle City Council for giving Eve’s Army this wonderful opportunity to sing a A Song for Eve at the 130th annual Hoppings Fair on the Town Moor.

“When Eve and children like her are discharged from hospital, their families are often faced with a range of expensive and specialist needs, which are important to help them get better.

“There can sometimes be a delay between being discharged and having the necessary adjustments made to be cared for effectively at home.

“For example, an adapted vehicle can take three months to procure, and the necessary home adaptations often require planning permission and building work, which takes time.

“This fund is about looking at what we at the Newcastle Healthcare Charity can do to help bridge the gap.

“In Eve’s case, she needed specialist transport when she left hospital to enable her to get out and about in her community for social contact and engagement.

“Otherwise, she would have been stuck at home, unable to interact with her friends.

“Eve’s family and friends have made huge efforts to raise funds on her behalf and, thanks to the generosity of Benfield Motors, a specially-adapted car was provided.

“The new Ready for Home Rehabilitation Fund will hopefully provide funds to ease the difficult transition between hospital and home for children in Eve’s position in the future.”