Always GOSH

The Wishing Well Appeal

Back in the 80s, we kick-started decades of fundraising to give seriously ill children the chance of a better future. The Wishing Well Appeal touched every corner of the UK. It was the largest ever appeal of its kind, and the money raised transformed Great Ormond Street Hospital for the better.

Now, we’re celebrating 30 years of incredible fundraising. Over the years, people like you have done extraordinary things to support groundbreaking research, incredible development and vital day-to-day support services for children and families.

We’d like to introduce you to just some of the people who know how important your support was, is, and will be – then, now, always.

GOSH supporter Lord Prior launches the appeal with a group of patients, including patient Laura Jones (left) who first came to GOSH aged five months with a very rare condition. Today, she lives in Scotland and recently qualified as a nursery worker!

GOSH supporter Lord Prior launches the appeal with a group of patients, including patient Laura Jones (left) who first came to GOSH aged five months with a very rare condition. Today, she lives in Scotland and recently qualified as a nursery worker!

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Di Robertshaw has been working and teaching at Great Ormond Street Hospital for more than 45 years. When she began her training, the hospital was a very different place. The Wishing Well Appeal began in the late 1980s, sparking three decades of change that have transformed GOSH – and Di knows exactly how important your support has been.

"I started nursing as a student in October 1972. I qualified as a Staff Nurse in the Cardiac unit, and I still teach there now! I train about 250 nurses, running courses with 10, 15 and 20 nurses at a time. Every week is different, it’s very stimulating. I use my specialist knowledge in a different way each day.

"The hospital’s changed a lot. Until the late 80s, there was just the one building and the lifts didn’t take full-size beds. When I started there wasn’t space for a parent to stay with their child. There was never any space at the bedside – you had to climb over everyone.

"The transformation started by the Wishing Well Appeal has been exponential. I love to see the wonder in the faces of the nurses on reunion tours when they see how the hospital’s developed, with children at the heart of it.

"To those that work at the hospital and live in London, GOSH is a normal hospital. But when I went to work in India during the 80s, I came out of the airport and the first ad I saw was for Coca Cola but the second was for the Wishing Well Appeal.

"Previously, awareness of the need for public support at GOSH had been low. Today, we go through more and more change every year! I see the hospital and the charity as working as one – the charity’s impact really is for every member of staff, child and family!"

Sarah's story

These photos belong to Sarah, who was a patient at GOSH in the 70s and 80s. She remembers how the nurses were like ‘big sisters’:

“You build a rapport with the nurses, they were always there to comfort me and be by my side throughout. Even though GOSH is a place with so many sad stories, and people in a far worse state than me, the staff always had time for me.”

Today, Sarah has co-founded a campaign to encourage people to share their organ donation wishes with their families.

Two-year-old Anaiah-Grace and her mum Faith lived at Great Ormond Street Hospital for eighteen months while Anaiah-Grace had a heart transplant and tracheostomy. Now back for treatment in the brand-new building, Faith reflects on her experiences at GOSH.

“It was the worst news you could ever hear as a parent. Anaiah-Grace was born healthy with no complications and in a day our life just turned upside down. Not only did she need a heart transplant, but she had a condition that was going to affect her for the rest of her life in ways we didn’t know how. It was devastating. No words can describe it.

“I think one of the best memories was the first time I took Anaiah-Grace out – it was with one of the healthcare assistants on Miffy that was with us in intensive care. Anaiah-Grace hadn’t been out because she’d been so unwell, and it was nerve-wracking.

"The healthcare assistant said yes, we’re taking her out to the Sky Garden, it was the first time in a few months Anaiah-Grace had felt fresh air on her skin, and felt like ‘Wow, what is wind?’ That was the most incredible experience. For so long we thought that would never be a possibility."

Naomi’s three-year-old son, Rupert, has Hunter’s syndrome, a rare condition caused by a missing enzyme. It affects almost exclusively males and impacts on both a child’s development and day-to-day vital functions. As children with Hunter’s syndrome get older, they require more and more medical support. Sadly, many of those children with a severe form of the condition are unlikely to live beyond their teens.

"I’d never heard of Hunter's syndrome. It’s a progressive, multi-systematic disease that is slowly going to take away from Rupert the things he can do now.

"The longer he’s living, the more the disease is progressing. I don’t like his birthday – it’s quite upsetting when he gets older, because you think it’s another year of his life gone. I know that’s a negative way of looking at it, but you want to hold on to those younger years, because the older he’s getting, the more I’m going to see how poorly he is.

"But one of my friends did say to me: ‘How on earth do you cope?’ I simply said: ‘One day, Rupert will not be able to do this, so I have all the time in the world for him. I couldn't care less how much noise they make, how much running around they do, because one day he simply won't do it. To have those moments of happiness and joy, watching him have fun, means the world.’

"Everybody at GOSH is amazing because everybody’s smiling. Everybody’s happy, everything’s looked after, everybody’s there to help. I feel quite lucky that even though Rupert’s so poorly, we’re in the best place for him."

There are 644 research studies active at GOSH every day. The brightest minds are coming together to achieve pioneering medical breakthroughs – and build a brighter future for children like Rupert.


The largest ever national
appeal of its kind sparked
thirty years of incredible

Your support enables us
to provide the very best
equipment, science,
facilities and services for
seriously ill children and
their families.
They will ALWAYS need us.
And we will ALWAYS need you.

Are you with us, always? Follow us on social media.