Generous Stapleton AFC back charity run
Published on: 08 Jun 2015
WHEN football manager Rob Selman wanted to raise money for a children's charity close to his heart, he hadn't banked on the response he would get from his team.
Rob, manager of Stapleton AFC, decided to collect money for the Jessie May Trust after fostering a little girl with a life-limiting illness.
The 51-year-old signed up for the Bristol 10k and messaged his team members asking if they would like to join him in supporting the charity.
Within 10 minutes Rob was inundated with offers to run with him and help him smash his target of £4,000.
Rob, who was due to embark on the mini-marathon on Sunday May 31 as the Voice went to press, said: "About 22 of the lads have registered to take part. It just caught their imagination and I had loads of replies saying, 'Yes, of course we'll do it'.
"They've really bought into fundraising for Jessie May. They didn't have to take part in the marathon and get lots of sponsorship money in as it's quite hard work asking for money, but they have and they've been brilliant."
Rob said further support has come from two Fishponds' businesses, Peter's Food Service and SM Gauge, which have both made "sizeable donations".
Rob and wife Gaynor, also 51, have been fostering children for the past 10 years but over the last two years have been caring for a child who needs round-the-clock care.
The two-and-a-half-year-old, who cannot be named as she is in care, needs to be wired up to an oxygen supply 24 hours a day as a result of chronic lung disease. She is also deaf and has to be fed through a tube in her stomach because it is unsafe for her to swallow.
The family, who live in Begbrook Green, are being supported by the Kingswood-based Jessie May Trust, which offers support and respite care to enable Gaynor to have a break for a few hours.
"The charity gives so much that I wanted to give something back," Rob said.
Rob said the support from the Jessie May Trust has been invaluable in helping them cope with the difficulties in caring for a child with a life-limiting illness.
"Her illness is quite complex and it's really hard work 24 hours a day because she's reliant on oxygen. She has nasal tubes to deliver oxygen and if they come out of her nose and we don't realise, she will die."
As a baby, the child was admitted to Bristol Children's Hospital when she had problems breathing. At the time she wasn't expected to survive but amazingly she pulled through.
Rob said: "A couple of months later Gaynor and I were approached to go into the hospital and nurture and interact with her because she hadn't formed any attachment to anyone. She was just staring at the ceiling the whole time.
"My wife was going to the hospital up to eight hours a day, six days a week for about nine months. I was going in on weekends because I work. After 18 months they asked if we could care for her at home and we agreed.
"It's like a mini hospital ward upstairs with all the equipment we need to support her but the difference in her now is amazing.
"We have had a few issues with her health over the winter where it was touch and go as to whether she would survive, but she did and she's just full of beans again now."
Rob said the illness is incurable but due to treatment her condition has improved and she is now on less medication.
Plans are being made for the child to go to a nursery for four afternoons a week, with one-on-one support.
"That's absolutely fantastic. It's something we didn't think would happen," Rob said.
"She's a right little character now. She's unable to walk yet as she's about a year behind in her development but she's crawling around. The communication side of things is difficult as she is deaf but Gaynor and I are learning sign language to help.
"She's just gorgeous and has a lovely smile. We dress her up really smart and spoil her to a certain extent. She knows when she is doing something she shouldn't be doing and just giggles about it. That's what kids do! We want to make her life as normal as possible and we're doing that." Rob said: "Everyone involved has been fantastic, especially the lads in the football club. Some of them have children of their own so they know what it's like to have a healthy baby.
"They look at her and think how lucky they are."
If you would like to support the team in their fundraising efforts, please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/stapletonafc