Take tea to support families of patients at Sheffield hospital just like Alexis

Dad Richard with Alexis in the playroom at Treetop House
Dad Richard with Alexis in the playroom at Treetop House

When Alexis McCluskey was rushed to hospital after stopping breathing just days old, it brought her parents’ worst fears to life.

The infant was left suffering potentially life-threatening symptoms because of a ‘floppy larynx’, a condition where the tissues of the voice box soften above the vocal cords, partially blocking the airway.

After examining Alexis, doctors said she needed emergency treatment at Sheffield Children’s Hospital - a 13-mile round trip from her home.

But, thanks to the Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘home from home’ facility Treetop House, close to the hospital, her mother Caroline and father Richard were never forced to spend a moment apart from their daughter.

The house, one of two in Sheffield, provides accommodation for families of poorly youngsters, allowing them to stay by their child’s bedside.

The facility - opened following an appeal backed by the Sheffield Telegraph - provided a home for the McCluskeys for the duration of Alexis’ first admission, which lasted for six weeks.

Since then Alexis, now aged two-and-a-half, has undergone 16 operations in Sheffield on her throat and stomach, and she is currently having further treatment.

“To be able to stay with my daughter every step of the way was fantastic,” said Caroline.

“When she was admitted, it was the start of the summer holidays and fortunately staff at Treetop gave us space for Alexis’ siblings to stay. I can’t imagine what I would have done without it.”

The family, from Kimberworth in Rotherham, are now supporting The Big Chocolate Tea Party campaign, which takes place throughout May and hopes to raise £100,000 to run the charity’s 10 ‘homes from home’ nationwide.

It costs £28 to provide a night’s accommodation for one family, and the appeal urges fundraisers to serve up tea, cakes and other sweet treats, collecting donations for the trust in return.

Richard and his friends will also be taking part in a charity skydive later this year.

n Email chocolate@sickchildrenstrust.org for details.