The Arsenal Foundation donates grant

780 400 Susie

Spread a Smile, the charity on a mission to bring joy and laughter to seriously ill children in hospital via talented entertainers including musicians, artists, magicians and therapy dogs, has received a from The Arsenal Foundation, which will be put towards supporting the ongoing work that the charity provides across its hospital partners.

Arsenal Football Club has always understood the power it has to make a difference in the community and as the club has grown so has its ability to make that difference. Arsenal’s tradition of giving sees it make contributions to good causes local to the club.  Spread a Smile neighbours Arsenal, with its HQ situated nearby the club in Hornsey and its work highlighted by one of its members.

The Arsenal Foundation supported through a grant, following an application which included the story of one of their young fans, Amelia, aged 11, who fought a brain tumour and was supported by the Spread a Smile team during her long hospital stays and beyond.

Lucy Jackson, Spread a Smile Chief Executive said of the grant, “We are immensely thankful to The Arsenal Foundation for their generous donation. The funding will help us spread more smiles in hospital which can make a significant difference to a child and their family during a challenging time. It is wonderful to receive support from the local community and we’re delighted to be neighbours with a Foundation that both supports our mission as well as drives its own initiatives for good.”

Gemma, Amelia’s mum, tells her daughter’s story:

“When Amelia was eight years old she started to experience headaches and stomach pain at night.  Her symptoms continued and we started noticing that she didn’t seem to be growing, wasn’t eating properly and started to lose weight, plus kept losing her balance.

Amelia was referred to hospital and an MRI scan revealed a large mass on her brain.  She was diagnosed with Germinoma, a brain tumour in January 2023.   What followed was four cycles of chemotherapy, during which time Amelia was often very unwell, in and out of hospital for blood transfusions.  It was an extremely emotional time for us all.  Amelia just wanted to be at home with her family!

In April 2023, Amelia was referred for a three-week course of Proton Beam Therapy at UCLH, during which time she and I stayed together, visiting hospital every day for treatment.  It was a very difficult time.  We were away from home and the rest of the family, and Amelia was often so ill we weren’t able to do anything else at all.  

My husband Scott had met some of the Spread a Smile team during a hospital visit.  They introduced themselves and offered to support us, mentioning a forthcoming day out at Mildreds restaurant and a planned tripped to see Frozen at the theatre. The outing gave us the chance to do something as a family.  We went to see Frozen just after Amelia finished her proton treatment and it was brilliant to have her sisters join in for such a special day out.

Having been under pressure financially due to needing to look after all our children, the outing was a well needed treat for the whole family and something we would never have been able to afford ourselves.

Spread a Smile gave us a place to be together, not having to worry about money.  There was entertainment including magic, singing and so much more to help cheer us all up and forget about all the other stuff we were going through.  It was amazing seeing the faces of our children!  The girls enjoyed face painting, balloon making and eating Lola’s cupcakes. 

I just sat down, relaxed and watched my children have fun and smile. 

Amelia rang the bell at Colchester Hospital in July 2023 to mark the end of her cancer treatment, but Spread a Smile is still supporting us and we enjoyed a family trip to the Lake District when Amelia finished her treatment.

Seeing Amelia go through her treatment was so hard.  She was so sick and there was so much worry and pain.  Being away from the family was extremely difficult and a very lonely time for me too.  Spread a Smile injected light back into our lives.  They gave us something to look forward to and a place to be together again as a family.  We will forever be grateful to the team.”