Former patient Dominic speaks up for appeal

Dominic West'Photograph: Marco Marezza
Dominic West'Photograph: Marco Marezza

BAFTA-nominated actor Dominic West is backing The Sick Children’s Trust appeal to build a new ‘Home From Home’ at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Grindleford-born West had two spells in the hospital himself as a child and said: “When the charity got in touch and asked if I could support them, I felt as though it was something I owed. I am just delighted to be able to try and bring it to the attention of more people.’’

West suffered from Henoch-Scholein purpura, a disease of the skin and other organs that most commonly affects children and can lead to severe kidney disease.

West said: “I was in the hospital aged three and then again at four, so my memories are pretty limited.

“I remember the illness, though, and I know I was very well looked after at the hospital. Getting involved in this appeal seemed the least I could do.

“I’m involved with another local charity, Helen’s Trust, which helps people live at home at the end of their lives. This appeal is obviously very different in some ways but both are there to keep families together.

“It’s something that the NHS doesn’t cover but is obviously hugely important to the families involved.”

West, who attended Westbourne School in Sheffield and still pays regular visits to family in the area, shot to fame for his portrayal of hard-drinking Baltimore detective Jimmy McNulty in the hit HBO TV show The Wire.

Last September he returned to his native Sheffield to play Iago to his former Wire co-star Clarke Peters’ Othello at the Crucible Theatre and said: “I still have a lot of affection for the area and it’s always good to come home.

“It was a great experience at the Crucible because you knew a lot of the younger people in the audience were seeing the play for the first time.

“The reception we got was fantastic and, hopefully, we’ll be back to do some more Shakespeare before too long. There’s also talk of taking the Crucible production of Othello into the West End.”

He has just completed filming a second series of The Hour – about the BBC in the 1950s – and was recently nominated for a BAFTA for his depiction of Fred West in the haunting TV drama, Appropriate Adult. The series has four nominations in all, including West for Best Actor.

He said: “We have more nominations than anyone but we’re up against Sherlock, so we’ll have to see how that goes...’’

Treetop House, run by The Sick Children’s Trust, already provides somewhere to stay for families of children being treated at the hospital, but many more are turned away every year because there simply isn’t room.

A new ‘Home from Home’ is to be built through the conversion of two detached houses on the hospital site and initial estimates have set the Branching Out appeal target at £1.2m.

The houses, currently used as offices, will be joined to provide 11 family bedrooms, communal kitchen/dining area, lounge, playroom and laundry rooms.

A crucial part of the project will also see a corridor linking the houses to Critical Care in the main building.