Paula and pals set off in pursuit of Jack's legacy

Published on: 03 May 2013

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MUM Paula Banks is aiming to raise an amazing £100,000 for facilities at Bristol Children’s Hospital in memory of her son Jack.

Paula wants to fund a playroom and conservatory as part of a major expansion at the hospital where Jack died nearly five years ago at the age of nine.

The Christ Church Infant and Junior School pupil had spent more than four years in and out of the hospital undergoing treatment, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and two bone marrow transplants for a rare form of leukaemia.

Just a month after Jack’s death in July 2008, Paula, and her family set up a fund through the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal in support of the unit where he had been treated.

Jack’s fund has already provided items for the unit but when Paula heard about the planned expansion she resolved to raise enough money to pay for the playroom and conservatory.

“That is my ultimate aim – to have his name on the door and fund that space. That is what Jack was all about. He was a young child and he loved to play.”

The facility will be on the seventh floor of the city centre hospital in the newly integrated oncology and bone marrow transplant unit and will have spectacular views over Bristol.

Paula said the conservatory would be wonderful for the children and parents who had to spend weeks in isolation.

“It will make such a difference to feel as if you are outside,” she said.

The fund has already raised more than £55,000 and Paula’s first big effort since setting herself the incredible target is to run the Bristol 10K on May 5 with a group of family and friends.

Among them will be Jack’s grandad Mike Keeler, from Staple Hill, who has been running with Paula ever since her first charity run in the Bristol Half Marathon in aid of CLIC in 2004, shortly after Jack’s first bone marrow transplant, for which his brother Joe, then eight was the donor.

She did not have much time for running in the years that followed because of Jack’s treatment, but after he died she took it up again, entering the Bath Half Marathon with supporters of Team Jack in 2009.

This time a different group are running with her in the 10K, some of whom have just taken up the sport and others who are training for longer distance events. They include colleagues from Integreon, where she works as an administrator, and former colleagues from Osborne Clarke.

“I am conscious that I am always asking the same people for support but I am touched that family and friends still want to help and that even after all this time other people who have heard about Jack and about what we are doing come forward to ask what they can do to help,” said Paula.

Joe, now nearly 18, has raised money through a sponsored abseil and with his dad Rob has supported other fundraising efforts such as supermarket bag packing.

Two supporters are taking part in a tandem skydive this month and future events planned include a Ladies Night on July 5 and a Themed Fancy Dress on September 13.

Paula is also an ambassador for the hospital’s wider Children’s Cancer Appeal, which is aiming to raise a total of £350,000 and regularly helps out in the offices.

“I have met so many people through this, and sadly have known many who have lost their lives. I couldn’t walk away from it. I needed to focus on something in a positive way and to to give something back. It is just so nice that people still remember Jack and that I can talk about him. He is my driving force,” she said.

To support Team Jack, go to www.justgiving.com/jackbanks

Pirate Fun

CAPTAIN Jack’s treasure chests have been bought by Jack’s fund for the oncology ward, the oncology day beds and the bone marrow transplant unit.

These are pirate-themed toy boxes from which children can choose a gift when they have to face unpleasant and scary medical procedcures.

They have proved hughly popular and Paula ensures they remain well stocked.

Jack’s fund has also provided Wii fit boards to help children recovering after transplants, DVDs and Xbox 360 games and emergency palliative care bags.

 

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