Frederick’s fantastic football fundraiser

After his surgery at GOSH, eight-year-old Frederick and his sister Cayetana, aged six, asked for donations to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) at their brilliant birthday parties, raising a total of £550!

Five days at GOSH

Frederick started having headaches in June 2018. An MRI scan showed he had a condition called Chiari I malformation with Syringomyelia, where part of the skull is too small and the lowest part of the brain extends into the spinal canal, putting pressure on the brainstem and spinal cord. Quickly his family were sent to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for specialist treatment. His mum, Natalia, tells us more:

“Before his diagnosis, Frederick had his sports day and he was very moody and didn’t want to participate in anything, which really wasn’t like him. Then we realised he was having massive headaches at the time because of his Chiari.

“Mr Dominic Thompson [Consultant in Paediatric Neurosurgery at GOSH] told us there were two stages in the surgery he could perform and that doing nothing may end up in complications further down the line. He was very thorough explaining everything to us but also to our son in a way he could understand. We chose surgery, straight away and fully trusted him with the type of surgery he thought would work best. Frederick could not have been under better care. He had the operation at the end of August. It was successful and he only spent five days in the hospital.”

Frederick and Cayetana at the football fundraising party
Frederick and Cayetana at the football fundraising party

Full circle

As Frederick recovered from his operation, he had to stop doing activities he loved, like playing the French horn. “He couldn’t play the instrument he loved or play football,” Natalia explains. “He was in year three at the time and that’s when all the children start getting into sport with competitions with other schools. But he was withdrawn from that.

“When he ended up doing this football fundraising party, it was like coming full circle. He was thrilled and he was doing things he couldn’t enjoy a year ago.

“He’s now stopped playing the French horn because blowing the horn causes him pain due to his condition. But he’s started playing the cello and the piano! When Frederick gets better at the cello, it’d be really nice to do a little family concert and ask for donations.”

Kicking off the fundraising

“I think it’s quite easy to host a party like this. I know you can get some help from the charity, but we decided to do it a bit last-minute so we just told everyone, ‘don’t give gifts.’ I’m also exploring matched fundraising with my employer to get extra funds for GOSH.

“People are quite happy to help and it’s a good thing for the children to be involved with – their classmates and friends were very supportive. It definitely wasn’t easy for Frederick, not having presents, but I think it’s good. I hope this becomes an annual birthday party where he decides to help in this way.”

Cayetana at high ropes fundraising party

Team Frederick

Cayetana, Frederick’s sister, also asked for donations to GOSH Charity instead of presents at her birthday party. Natalia says: “It’s also been difficult for my daughter because we’ve been giving lots of attention to my son, but she’s been very supportive and patient.” Cayetana’s party was also an activity – “it was really nice for me to see them both participating,” Natalia says.

They had lots of help and support at each stage from Marion, who works for Mr Thompson. Natalia emphasises: “Marion was like a guardian angel, always on our side and one step ahead. She’s the one who linked me up with the Charity team and suggested presenting the cheque to Mr Thompson, making it extra special. People at GOSH all really care.”

“I think we were very lucky because we were only at GOSH for five days. But in a way, it felt like we were visiting, because we knew lots of people were there for much longer. You realise how lucky you are and how strong other people are, how they cope.”

Find out how you can celebrate your big day in a special way here.