As a parent of a child who fought a long battle against a terminal disease, Lynn Baker knows the value of help from people in the same situation. After her youngest daughter died last year, she decided it was time to help others as a way of moving on.
When the 39-year-old single mother from Beckenham was getting rid of old clothes and toys, she got the idea to start fundraising for the local hospice, where her daughter, Lucy, died from an incurable lung condition at just six years old. This year Lynn is raising money for the second time, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where her daughter was treated.
“You know a lot of people do this after losing a child. I want to give something back [to those who helped] and I like to keep myself busy,” she said.
Lucy was only nine months old when the doctors knew something was wrong. She had a condition called Interstitial Lung Disease. The name is an umbrella term covering more than 200 different types of ILD and the doctors were not sure which one Lucy had. Scar tissue built up in her lungs, which made the wall of her lungs thicker and less able to take in oxygen as they lost their elasticity.
From then on, Lucy was in and out of GOSH before being admitted to their Badger Ward in October 2013, at the age of five. Her lungs were weak and she needed increased levels of oxygen through a nasal cannula.
Lynn is now raising money to donate to the ward for medical equipment such as the oxygen machine Lucy used.
“I don’t know where I would be today without Great Ormond Street Hospital. Lucy’s consultant was like a friend; he was always there for us when we had concerns or questions.
“I’ve decided to give the money to the Badger Ward, because I want to help other children in the same situation as Lucy.”
Lucy spent her last months in a hospice closer to her home, after Lynn decided to move her from GOSH to Demelza Children’s Hospice.
“Lucy had been there before, for respite, they knew my family well. I felt my daughter would be more comfortable there,” Lynn explained.
She paused for a few seconds before continuing: “It gave my daughter the opportunity to be away from all the different machines and their terminal care is very good.”
Demelza became the Baker family’s home away from home that Christmas, decorated with everything pink and a lot of One Direction souvenirs. Despite the odds not being in her favour, Lucy held on for four months, before she passed away on March 23 last year.
“Lucy loved everything pink and princesses. Her favourite Disney movie was ‘Tangled’. She was a ray of sunlight and never complained about anything,” Lynn said, while photographs on her phone showed a little girl dressed in pink from head to toe.
Lynn’s first fundraiser was a triumph, and the money went to Demelza as a way of giving back to them. Along with her two friends, Emma Warrington and Rosemary Stretton, she arranged a fundraiser in Emmanuel Church Hall in West Wickham where they raised £1,358 from cake sales and selling children’s clothes.
At Demelza, Lucy got the chance to Skype with one of the singers from One Direction after an online campaign from Lynn and Emma, which the band caught wind of. They were on tour, but Liam Payne found time for a Skype conversation.
“He sang to her from their song Story of my life,” Lynn said, explaining is was a dream coming true for Lucy.
Despite her choice of moving her daughter to a hospice closer to home, Lynn is grateful for the help and support she received at GOSH in the years leading up to Lucy’s transfer. She wants to repeat the success from last year and this year’s fundraising seems to be Easter themed.
In addition to her just giving page, Lynn is having a fundraising in her Beckenham home on March 28 and family, friends, classmates of her daughter and others from the local area have been invited.
“Twitter is amazing,” she said. People have been replying to her Tweets where she appealed for donations of Easter Eggs for the tombola.
Even Tesco replied, saying that local superstores should be able to help out with Easter Eggs and raffle prices, which the superstore in Lewisham did.
“People are delivering Easter Eggs at Bromley Pottery and I will pick them up there,” Lynn explained.
She and her friends have arranged face painting for children, raffles and tombola.
“We’re also going to sell children’s clothes, cakes and refreshments,” they added.
With three weeks left, the fundraisers have managed to collect several tempting raffle prices, such as chocolate from Galaxy, vouchers from different restaurants, among them a good seafood restaurant called Sea Salt.
With her voice breaking, Lynn said: “It is a difficult time of the year, so I like to keep myself occupied, to get my mind off everything. All I want is to help other children who are in the same situation as Lucy was and make my daughter proud.”