Five-year-old Amberley has seen for herself how her little sister has been cared for in hospital and wanted to raise some money to support her local children’s charity.
Amberley, from Horsham, is proud to be Autumn’s big sister; she enjoys playing with her, looking after her and loves spending time with her. However, Autumn has spent time in hospital since being born but Amberley has been right by her side.
Autumn was born in the Princess Royal Hospital in Hayward Heath in 2019 and since then has been treated in the Special Care Baby Unit and the Royal Alex in Brighton.
Despite being young herself, Amberley wanted to be there to help with her sister and make sure she was ok.
Her mum Sophie Rice explained:
“I was staying in the hospital with Autumn but it was important for Amberley to be part of her new sister’s life so she visited regularly, played with the toys and even helped to feed Autumn when she was born, which all made her feel part of the process.
“Autumn has been in and out of hospital for tests and treatment over the last 18 months and this has affected us all greatly. This was an experience we’d never been part of before and we were blown away by the care, attention and love we were all given by the staff.
“It’s a world that no-one knows about until they have a sick child. While you are in hospital your world shrinks down to very simple elements of waiting to speak to staff about your baby and what you can do to help them. But throughout all of it, our whole family were made to feel special and cared for. The staff really understand that situations like this impact on the whole family and their support really reflects that. As a family, we are so grateful, and we’ll always want to support Rockinghorse.”
Throughout the last year and a half Amberley has become aware of how charities work, especially Rockinghorse, as she has seen what they do first-hand. So, when Sophie saw the 5k challenge on the Rockinghorse website, she suggested to Amberley that this might be a great way to use the newfound walking skills she had acquired during lockdown to raise some money.
“Amberly has always been interested in the running I have previously done for Rockinghorse and when I suggested the 5k she was really excited to be supporting the hospital that looks after Autumn. I helped her set up her own Just Giving page, and she chose the photo and wrote the words. She told her grandparents all about it and got excited looking at the app every time someone donated.
“We talked about the kind of things that the money might go towards, things like the toys she had played with and equipment such as heart and blood pressure monitors that helped Autumn.”
The next step was to choose a route and after some research, they decided on St Leonards Forest in East Horsham. It’s Amberley’s favourite woods and included ups and downs, a bit of climbing and a chance to really get involved in the local countryside. They got their Rockinghorse t-shirt’s, snacks, and drinks ready and set up the route on their phone tracker, organising a timer to go off every kilometre so they would know how they were progressing.
And when they finally reached their target, there was a big cheer! As a treat, Amberley enjoyed a lovely cookie with her feet up in front of her favourite TV programme when they got home.
Ryan Heal, CEO at Rockinghorse, was amazed by Amberley’s achievement, he said:
“We are always blown away by what our supporters do for us, but seeing younger supporters stretch themselves to support their peers is incredible. Amberley really is a Rockinghorse Hero and we wish her every success with her fundraising in the future.
“We understand the importance of our support for the medical staff at the Alex but seeing how the work we do impacts on families and siblings is really impactful.
“This year has certainly been a struggle for us, along with many small charities, and we have seen at least £50,000 wiped off our fundraising in the last few months. But it’s important that people understand that whatever they can do, whatever their age, can really make a difference.”
Amberley is delighted to have been able to help, Sophie said:
“She’s really proud of what she’s achieved, saying to me, ‘Mummy, I’m a Rockinghorse Hero!’ And she definitely is. She’s helping her sister along with countless other children and families who use the amazing services provided by the Royal Alex and Princess Royal Hospitals.”
Amberley will continue to support the charity in the future but her focus at the moment is getting back to school and enjoying her 6th birthday in a couple of weeks!
If you think you might be able to help support Rockinghorse and be a Rockinghorse Hero, take a look at the charity’s website at: www.rockinghorse.org.uk for ideas of how you can get involved.