- Burford School Fashion Show for SCCWID
Burford School students raised £4,500 by taking to the catwalk raising money for Cornwell-based charity SCCWID (Sophies Campaign for the Childrens Ward for Interesting Things to Do). The appeal was started by former Burford student, Sophie Watson, who died of cancer six years ago, aged 18.
SCCWID is busy fundraising for th New Oxford Children's Hospital. "Our main thing is going to be to equip the teenage unit" said Selina Watson, "nothing medical, but to make sure that there are televisions, videos, and beds. They asked us if we would do beds. They want to have those eletric beds and I know how wonderful they are. It means you do not have to be sitting on your bottom or lying uncomfortably because you can always move your bed around. Also, every bed is going to have a second bed beneath, which you can pull out for the family. When we went there, we were sleeping on beds in which the springs eventually collapsed! So we bought them these amazing 'put-you-up' beds, which are very special."
There are not many fourteen year olds who manage to raise £90,000, let alone those who are suffering from cancer. This is what Sophie Watson did. A truly unselfish person who only wanted the best for others, Sophie set up SCCWID - 'Sophies Campaign for the Childrens Ward for Interesting Things To Do" - and set about transforming the John Radcliffe children's cancer ward. Nine years on, SCCWID has managed, with steel determination, to turn the children's ward into a really vibrant, happy place.
The story of SCCWID began in 1996 when Sophie fell off her horse and injured her knee. With the pain refusing to go away, doctors discovered a cancerous tumour in her leg, so that she then had to have an operation to remove her knee joint. Supported by her family - father Alastair, mother Selina, sister Alice and brother Harry - Sophie went to the John Radcliffe to chemotherapy. The first experience of the childrens ward was very depressing, as Selina describes: "We walked into the ward and all the nurses and doctors were absolutely wonderful; but the ward was really grey, drepressing and dismal. Sophie was 14, a gorgeous girl with thick blonde hair. We went into the playroom and it was full of these children with no hair. That was the lasting impression for Sophie and I of what it was like to arrive there; and it was that which made her determined, from the very beginning, to do something to improve it and make it jollier."
Depsite the doctors and nurses at the Radcliffe being brilliant they were worked off their feet. The problem was that there was no money with which to improve the ward. Undaunted, Sophie set about raising the money herself. She did a sponsored headshave, which brought in a lot of money and attracted a large amount of media interest. "She was endlessly on the telly - so brave to be on the telly in hospital - on the wireless, in the press. That raised a lot of money", remembers Selina. Not stopping there, Sophie started to design t-shirts and hoodies with her own SCCWID logo (a squid) and all her friends became sales representatives at their various schools. Soon, the orders came flying in.
With the funds raised, Sophie set about making the ward an exciting and lively place. "Sophie made the ward so colourful, with lots of duvet covers and anything else the children wanted. She would go round asking them and making lists. I would go out and buy anything they wanted with the fundraising money and she would distribute everything. Laptops, tellies and music filled the ward. Every little room had its own music system, its own colourful kettle. Everything so that when you walked into one of those rooms, it was really jolly. That was one of the only ways that nurses could get the children to go into these little rooms, because it had a Barbie or an Action Man duvet cover in. Her main thing wa entertainment and distraction, whilst her dream was to renovate the playroom. She said exactly what she wanted done and, after she died, we carried out all her plans. We changed it into a colourful and happy place. A place you want to go into, a place into which children are sucked because of its looks, and because it has everything you could possibly want."
Sophie lost her battle with cancer on January 5th, 200, not that that stopped SCCWID by any means. Selina, Alastair, Alice and Harry are now in charge and the charity is so successful that it takes up most of Selina's time. There are two seperate enterprise - one for the schools, which include the hoodies, t-shirts and rugby shirts with the SCCWID logo on; the other very beautiful clothing which Selina buys in India. SCCWID can be seen at many fairs, ranging from Oxford to Durham, and it is always expanding and gravitating towards London.
Everything SCCWID achieves is special. The memory of Sophie lives on through the enormous joy that the children get from her special vision.
The Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Concert Trust
One trust supporting our work is The Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Concert Trust. It was established in 1993 to expand the range of distribution of the proceeds of the Sir Winston Churchill Memorial Concerts, held annually at the former Prime Minister's birthplace of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. Here is a write up for SCCWID from one of the programmes:
Having produced all plans for the playroom, Sophie died on 5th January 2000. The Playroom was completely re-vamped that same year to Sophie's plans. Many, many children have benefited from Sophie's hard work and unselfishness, and love the playroom and all the many entertaining and fun things in it. You can see the results of the refurbishments on the PLAYROOM page. Ward 4B continues to be re-equipped with whatever it needs to entertain children.
Alongside the continuing support for Ward 4B SCCWID has now pledged to try to raise £250,000 for the new Children's Hospital to be build in the grounds of the John Radcliffe. This is a major undertaking for such a small charity, but we are optimistic as well as scared! SCCWID will take on a particular project within the Teenager's Area in the new hospital and fund it.
SCCWID is almost entirely supported by children who fundraise and sell merchandise like mad at schools nationwide. Sophie started this charity with no thought for herself or her own suffering and the children who support SCCWID carry on this unselfish idea themselves.