Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back

by Barretstown
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Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back
Give Seriously ill Children their Childhood Back

``My youngest son Oscar was just two weeks old when we got the horrific news last year that our son James had leukaemia. He was just 12 years old, it was completely devastating.

I still remember the day James was diagnosed so vividly. He had had a small fall, but ended up with a huge bruise that didn’t go away and then developed a rash. I decided to take him to the GP who suggested we go to the hospital for some blood tests. There within hours, they told me he had leukaemia and they were transferring him to Crumlin. I was so shocked, I just muttered about getting the car, even though they were already hooking him up to IV’s and drips, and they had to tell me we would be going by ambulance.``

       In fact, we couldn’t go anywhere. Normal family life ended as soon as we got his diagnosis.

From April to June last year, we watched our son disappear, it felt like cancer had beaten him. Then James was offered a place at Barretstown camp.

I was nervous. What if he got a temperature? How would he get his bloods done? What about his chemo? How would he get around in a wheelchair?

But then I spoke to Eimear, who is a member of the Barretstown team.  She explained that all of those issues would be managed by her team of volunteer doctors and nurses, while he was at camp. She reassured me that James would be medically cared for, while having the best time of his life.

                                            He needed it so badly!

Allowing James to go to Barretstown - with the peace of mind that Eimear and her team would keep him safe - was a turning point in the traumatic journey we had begun with his diagnosis.

Without the support of donors like those who give through GlobalGiving, there is no way James could have gone to Barretstown. And if James hadn’t gone to Barretstown, we would never have learned how to live with his cancer.

At Barretstown, a child can remember what it is to be a child again and to laugh and have fun. They go home with renewed self-confidence. My family and I have seen this first-hand.

What we have learned is that the magic of Barretstown lifts us all from the devastating impact of cancer while we are there and long after we leave.

We are so grateful to all those who made our visit possible.

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Roisin and her brother Liam at Barretstown
Roisin and her brother Liam at Barretstown

“How do you tell your six-year-old they have cancer? How do you prepare them for the fight that’s ahead and the difficult days that are coming? There is no right answer. But when my daughter Róisín was diagnosed with cancer the answer for us was Barretstown.

You see, my husband Rob and I told Róisín about all the medicines she would have to take. And all the tough treatments she would have to brave. But we also told her about Barretstown. And that made an incredible difference. Knowing there was a magical castle especially for children like her, where she could scale walls and visit secret gardens, gave my little girl something to dream of. A milestone to work toward.

Every child needs things to look forward to. Every child needs something to wish for. But when your child becomes so sick they can’t walk. When their beautiful long brown hair falls out in clumps as you brush it. When you see your child using every bit of energy they have just to survive. Then those wishes, those dreams, become more important than ever.

Driving in the gates to Barretstown we had no idea what to expect. I’ll admit I was nervous. Nervous that it would all be too much for Róisín. That she wouldn’t be able to keep up. And I could tell Róisín was nervous too. She insisted on wearing a baseball cap to hide the short patches of her hair that had begun to grow back.

But we shouldn’t have worried. Within minutes Róisín spotted another little girl whose hair was at the same stage of regrowth as her own. Seeing Róisín having the confidence to whip her cap off her head and say “look we have the same hair” was a wonderful moment.

You see, cancer doesn’t just attack your child’s body. It also attacks their confidence and their self-esteem. They feel different from their friends. Cancer begins to become part of their identity.

It’s hard to explain how much that meant to me. I remember being in the Secret Garden and feeling really choked up. It was like the magnitude of what we had been through hit me. I remember thinking we are here, we made it. My child is alive. And the most difficult part of this is behind us”.

Thanks to you and all the wonderful people who donate to Barretstown via GlobalGiving. These funds really make a huge difference and help us to deliver our service to families like Róisín's


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I hope you are well. I wanted to share with you a story about Daryl who came to Barretstown as a camper when he was 8. He returned as a Cara in his teens. And now he’s back as a volunteer Doctor in our Med Shed.

When Daryl was born he was diagnosed with severe haemophilia. His illness made him sick throughout his childhood and kept him out of school constantly. When he was 8 years old he attended a haemophilia camp at Barretstown. He found out he wasn’t alone facing the struggles that came with having haemophilia.

Most importantly, he learned from that week in camp that he could still do all the things other children could do, as he told us. “I had a fear of heights at the time. But there was this tree behind the cottage that I’d watched the other kids climb all week. I really wanted to climb it before I left and I hadn’t.

So my last night in camp I said to my cara ‘I really wish I could’ve climbed that tree. I’d hate to leave without having done it’. So they woke me up at six the next morning, took me out and I climbed that tree – I made it all the way to the top!

It typified for me what Barretstown was about – going the extra mile for a child. Barrestown builds children up, makes children try to do things they didn’t think they could do.”

Daryl decided after that night he’d return as a cara to give back to children what Barretstown gave him. He went on to pursue his dream of becoming a Doctor. After medical school, he returned as a volunteer Doctor in Barretstown’s medical facility - the Med Shed.

He’s volunteered for the past two years in Barretstown’s haemophilia camps. Even in the Med Shed, Daryl says it’s all about helping children feel like they can do anything. “Prior to coming to camp, in some cases, the children’s Parents do all of their injections. The children haven’t taken the leap of faith to start injecting their own haemophilia factor.

So every day we’d gather these children in the Med Shed and teach them how to do their own injections. I’ve seen these same children back the following year who tell me the first time they did their own injections was in camp. And they’ve been doing it by themselves ever since.

It’s great experiencing camp from the Med Shed, seeing how even from here, we’re able to help children push their own boundaries.” Pushing boundaries is something that Daryl believes Barretstown helped him with as a child. Like so many campers we meet, Daryl came to camp and left with an important part of himself that his illness had taken away. “Every time I left camp with a growing sense of selfconfidence and greater selfesteem. It’s something you can’t really get anywhere else except at Barretstown.”

We have many campers like Daryl who have gone on to achieve some incredible things, with the help of Barretstown, and supporters like you!

Yours sincerely,

Mark Hughes
Corporate Account Manager

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Dear supporter

Higher rates of cancer diagnosis and improved survival rates are leading to an increase in demand for our services, as more and more children and families face the long road through treatment.

Barretstown helps children and their families deal with the emotional and physiological scares often left after months and years of treatment.

The Barretstown programme is endorsed by leading medical professionals and has become internationally recognised as having a profound and lasting impact on the lives of children with serious illness.

After participating, children go home with increased confidence, self-esteem and the skills they need to face the rest of their journey to recovery.

With your help in 2016 we have achieved so much and have brought the magic of Barretstown to more children than ever before! In 2017 we want to run more camps and reach more children than ever before. Next year with the help of supporters like you we will run at least 10 Spring Family Camps, 7 week long Summer Camps and 9 Autumn Family Camps.

Thank you so much for your support!


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To all our wonderful donors,

Thank you for helping make our spring camps a huge success! 800 children came, rode horses, conquered our climbing wall, made lifelong friends and much more!

The laughter and singing of 800 campers rocked Barretstown this spring! Our spring camps are finished for another year, but we have the joyful memories, and plenty of photos of giggling campers to remind us of the amazing time had by campers, their families, and our volunteers. None of this would have happened without you!

“I haven’t seen Jack smiling or enjoying himself and chattingin a long time. He was always a little shy, and lost all his confidence over the last year. He struggled a little to get into the group sessions in camp but once he got into it, it did him a world of good.” Rachel, Camper Mum, Family Spring Camp 2016

I look forward to updating on your summer camps & the progress of our new dining hall which is currently under construction in my next report. 

Wishing you well,


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Organization Information


Location: Co Kildare - Ireland
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Barretstown?ref_src=twsrc%5Ego
Project Leader:
Blathnaid Harney
Co Kildare, Ireland
$27,853 raised of $60,308 goal
389 donations
$32,455 to go
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