Hugs Children's Cancer Charity (formerly Hugs from Henry) was set up after the devastating blow of a cancer diagnosis to the Hallam families oldest child, Henry, who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Neuroblastoma, at the tender age of 3. The cancer was aggressive and his primary tumour reached his kidney to his diagpragm and had spread to his liver, lymphs, bone and bone marrow. They were given a very poor prognosis and Henry was placed on a clinical trial that would last for approximately 14 months and would take place in Bristol, 120 miles away from their home in Plymouth.
Henry underwent many months of painful and traumatising treatments including daily injections, insertions of naso gastric tubes, surgeries and medicines that have lasting effects on both the body and mind. The Hallam family felt very alone and isolated, with closest friends and family being miles away and with the knowledge that locally no child had survived neuroblastoma before his diagnosis. During all of this turmoil Henry Mum who was pregnant when he was diagnosed also gave birth to his sister, three days before Henry was admitted for major surgery to remove the primary tumour and help save his kidney.
Henrys parents wanted to make a difference to other families who like them have been thrown into the traumatising world of childhood cancer. They wanted to share their experiences and give other parents a platform to talk to each other about treatments and side effects. Elsbeth states 'Hugs from Henry was born out of the pain we felt and the most urgent need to help others in these circumstances.'
Since opening the charity they have been able to support families with grants wishes, away days, care packs, vouchers and a platform for families to communicate with each other.
In 2018 the Hallam family donated Henrys personal appeal money the charity with the aim to provide a unique space to support families. The Hugs respite home is set in the idilic Cornish countryside, in a small complex of cottages. Our home from home is a two bed cottage, with three bathrooms, an open planed kitchen, dinner and sitting room, with the luxuries of underfloor heating and a wood burning stove. Both bedrooms benefit from sea views and the magnificent rolling Cornish hills and countryside. It contains its own courtyard and private seating area in a mature planted garden. The complex has a warm indoor pool, children's play area and a fabulous green space for picnics and games. We would like to fill it with board games, DVDs and books so that if the families who visited wanted, they could relax and chill on the complex. For those families who want to explore the local area, Fowey is a short distance and the beautiful beaches around Charlestown and Par are a 5 mins drive away, while attractions such as the Eden Project are a brief 10 minute drive.
During the covid pandemic Hugs stepped up and supported well over 100 families locally with food parcels and hot meals to those who were most vulnerable. the Covid crisis appeal was stated and continues to support families who are isolating or in the high risk categories.
The pandemic has hit the charity hard but they are committed to supporting as many families as they can.... a donation of £8 will pay for a hot meal to a parent in hospital while a donation of £50 with pay from small grant towards transport cost to and from Bristol Children's hospital.
On behalf of the trustees of Hugs Children's Cancer Charity and the families that we support, I thank you for taking the time to read our story and I really hope to hear from you soon!