Pupils at Wetherby Preparatory School in Marylebone have been fundraising over the past year for the More Smiles Appeal in aid of the hospital in Paddington, which aims to raise at least £2 million.
Activities have included choir singing at the hospital, talks from doctors, fundraising nights and many pupils have taken part in personal challenges to raise funds.
Headteacher, Nick Baker, said: “We are delighted to have raised more than £122,000 for the More Smiles Appeal at St Mary’s Hospital. The appeal has really struck a chord with our pupils, staff and parents and we have all worked really hard to raise this money because we know the difference it will make to so many families.”
Every year, around 400 patients are cared for in the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s but it also turns away hundreds more critically ill children because it does not have enough beds. This means children may have to be transferred hundreds of miles for treatment.
Last year, the unit had to turn away 233 children, more than half the number actually admitted.
The More Smiles Appeal, led by Imperial College Healthcare Charity and COSMIC, aims to create a new unit with 15 beds, almost doubling the current number, allowing more than 200 extra children to be cared for each year.
There will also be new equipment, a dedicated parents' room and a private room allowing space for doctors and nurses to provide emotional support and care to families whose children are very seriously ill.
Among the pupils who have raised money for the appeal is 10-year-old Mauri Noé. Mauri spent a night in the children’s intensive care unit three years ago when he developed complications after he had his tonsils out. Mauri raised £700 by running 10k with his dad, Mauricio, in Regent’s Park this month.
Mauricio, of Notting Hill, said: “Mauri loved raising money for the appeal – his medal is his most prized possession. The appeal really resonated with him because he was treated in the unit. All the things the More Smiles Appeal is trying to address he has seen first-hand.
“When Mauri was admitted to the children’s intensive care unit we were worried because although it was a routine complication after having your tonsils out, we knew they wouldn’t put children in intensive care unless it was necessary. You want them in there though because they need to be.
“When we got in the children’s intensive care unit it was amazing. It was very friendly and gentle and all the nurses and doctors were very dedicated.”
Maurice O’Connor, appeal manager for the More Smiles Appeal, said: “Our appeal goes way beyond what an overstretched NHS can provide – giving the best environment for critically ill children and worried parents. The appeal will help to create a world class environment that matches our world class care.
“We would like to thank Wetherby Preparatory School for their generous support, which will help us save hundreds more children’s lives.”