In June 2001, at the age of 7, Sebastian Gates was diagnosed with a Wilms’ tumour – a rare form of childhood cancer. Over the next two-and-a-half years he endured many operations, a stem-cell transplant, scores of chemotherapy courses and radiotherapy. Sadly, Sebastian died on Christmas Eve 2003.
Throughout his illness, Sebastian showed remarkable courage and a maturity that belied his nine years. Sebastian’s approach to his cancer was always positive and a source of inspiration to all who met him. Instead of focusing on himself, Sebastian sought opportunities to help others through their individual battles with illness and disease.
Having raised the funds required for a much-needed refurbishment of the Children’s Cancer Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, Sebastian turned his attention to the plight of families struggling to cope with all that accompanies a child’s battle with a life-threatening condition.
In the month before he died, Sebastian launched a new fundraising drive to establish a holiday home that would provide somewhere exclusively for families to spend precious time together, away from the hospitals and punishing treatment programmes that govern the lives of cancer patients and others with life-threatening conditions. Sebastian believed the holiday home should be available all year and should offer respite breaks to families with sick youngsters.
Sebastian’s Action Trust has created the UK’s only purpose-built facility that offers respite holidays to very sick children and their families, enabling precious time to be spent together.
The house, called The Bluebells, has been built in the pretty Hampshire village of North Waltham. It opened in July 2011. Nothing like this previously existed in the UK, making The Bluebells the first of its kind and Sebastian’s vision all the more exceptional.
Family Outreach Hub, in Slough Berkshire, provides a welcome drop-in centre for families of seriously-ill children, enabling them to access advice, guidance, advocacy, counselling and therapeutic support in order to address some of the critical issues they face on a daily basis.
They also give emotional, social and practical support in many different forms, through an outreach service to families of children battling with life-limiting illnesses and provide meaningful assistance at critical times to those exhausted by the stresses of hospital life and their child’s gruelling treatment.
The Trust does not have a restrictive geographical catchment area and already supports families in the South East, principally from Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire; however, they are happy to welcome families from outside these areas for respite breaks at The Bluebells.
At Sebastian’s Action Trust, they care about making life a little easier for these children and young people. With your help they can continue to give support where and when it is needed.
There are a great variety of ways in which you could choose to donate funds to Sebastian’s Action Trust.