David and Hannah Cole founded the charity in memory of their 16-month-old son.
Picture Credit: Jon Lewis / Thinking of Oscar.

Children’s charity, Thinking of Oscar, has launched a major fundraising campaign to raise a £500,000 ‘Innovation Fund’ for major UK children’s hospitals to mark its fifth anniversary.

The charity formally announced #TOO500 at Oxford Children’s Hospital today and appealed for people to take part in a unique cycling challenge. The #TOO500 campaign is a 500-cycle ride over five days, visiting each children’s hospital it will support. #TOO500 aims to raise funds to invest in innovative projects and act as a catalyst for positive change in child healthcare nationally.

Setting off from Oxford Children’s Hospital on June 12th #TOO500 will visit Birmingham Children’s Hospital, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Sheffield Children’s Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital. Cyclists will be greeted at each hospital by key staff. Participants can choose to take part in individual days, which are approximately 100 miles each, or the whole challenge.

Thinking of Oscar was set up by Hannah and David Cole in memory of their son Oscar who died suddenly and unexpectedly in Oxford on June 19th 2014. They founded Thinking of Oscar with the objective of enhancing the experience of children and their families in hospital care by investing in projects and innovations within child health which have the potential to benefit children nationally.

Mrs Cole said: “#TOO500 was born out of the realisation that child health lacks both funding and focus globally. The purpose of the campaign is to drive change nationally and by linking some of the UK’s most respected children’s hospitals for #TOO500 we believe we can accelerate progress. We’re appealing for people to take part in the cycling challenge or sponsor the event to help us help others.”

Thinking of Oscar charity #too500 bike ride launch at the Oxford Children’s Hospital.

Mr Cole said: “Through this event, we are excited to be supporting innovation across these leading children’s hospitals. Child healthcare severely lacks funding and focus, compared to adult care. Thinking of Oscar is focused on ensuring this issue is on the agenda for decision and policy makers in the health profession and on introducing practical improvements directly.” 

Dr Janet Craze, Consultant Paediatrician at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Thinking of Oscar has demonstrated tremendous energy and commitment not only in their fundraising, but also in bringing together professionals working in child health, to highlight areas where development, innovation and research are needed. At Oxford Children’s Hospital we have benefitted from their work since the charity was founded, so we are very excited to be involved in the latest initiative, TOO500. Bringing together clinical and non-clinical staff from six children’s hospitals has sparked a lively debate around imaginative ways in which technology and innovation can be used to improve health for all children.

Iain Hennessey, Clinical Director of innovation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, said: “Thinking of Oscar Charity means a lot to me, there is no greater injustice than a parent losing their child. What we have achieved in the last 100 years of medical progress is staggering, but sadly it is not enough. There are untapped technologies to make the next 100 years more effective, but we have to raise our game. This is why we need help. Be it money, equipment or expertise, to develop the next generation of treatments. Thinking of Oscar will be an important part of that journey and I look forward to taking part.”

Professor Paul Dimitri, Professor of Child Health and Consultant Paediatric Endocrinology at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said: “I am delighted that Sheffield Children’s Hospital is supporting the TOO500 challenge in loving memory of Oscar. TOO500 will bring together leading paediatric units across the country to raise £500,000 to support the development of child health technology and to support career development in this field. Children and young people are our future; TOO500 will champion the need to focus on the future of child health and unite paediatric centres to work collaboratively to ensure the best technology is developed to advance the healthcare of children and young people.”