Family payback time

Sam and Dave Bates with son Zachery at Tree Top House in Sheffield Childrens Hospital with Asst House Manager Nicola Higgins
Sam and Dave Bates with son Zachery at Tree Top House in Sheffield Childrens Hospital with Asst House Manager Nicola Higgins

WHEN a routine, 20-week scan revealed that Samantha Bates’ unborn son was suffering from hydrocephalus - water on the brain - it turned the family’s life upside down.

Seven months on, little Zachary has undergone nine operations and Samantha has barely left his side, yet she still found time to raise money for The Sick Children’s Trust’s Branching Out Appeal at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Samantha, from Chesterfield, organised a ladies’ pamper night and collected more than £800, which will be split between the appeal and neurological wards at the hospital.

She stayed at Treetop House, which provides free accommodation for the families of children being treated at the hospital, and said: “It made such a difference to us that I just felt I had to do something to repay them.

“We were in for a week the first time and I slept on the ward because Treetop House was full. It’s hard to sleep and works out pretty expensive when you are having to eat out all the time.

“The second time we were in for 56 days and I honestly don’t know what I would have done without Treetop House.

“We were sleeping on the ward again for the first two weeks but then a room became available.

“It gives you somewhere to go and try to rest, and you know you are only minutes away from your child.

“I also made some very good friends there, probably because you are all in similar situations.’’

Zachary was born without the part of the brain which removes excess water and moves it to other parts of the body. This can cause the brain and head to swell and can be a very disfiguring disease.

During two different operations, he has had a shunt fitted, which acts as a drain and pumps the fluid to other areas of the body.

Samantha said: “Zachary is experiences developmental delays and it can lead to varying degrees of learning difficulties, so we are well aware of the implications.

“My brother also suffers from hydrocephalus so we know what it can mean, but we are very proud of him

“Other than operations, we have not needed to stay at the hospital since Christmas, so fingers crossed. And Zachary is giving us plenty of smiles just now!

“Because of the way the most recent shunt had to be fitted he will need more operations as he gets older, so it is a huge comfort to know that there is somewhere like Treetop House if we needed to be in again for long periods.

“When we heard about the appeal, we asked if the money could go towards that because the demand is so great.’’

The Branching Out Appeal aims to raise £1.2m to convert two detached houses on the Children’s Hospital site, providing 11 more bedrooms for the families of seriously ill children.

Treetop House can cater for 13 families but there is almost always a waiting list.

For more details of the appeal and how you can help, go to