Photo: Grainge Photography
Photo: Grainge photography

A father’s moving testimony of the support Camp Simcha gave his family during his daughter’s short life helped raise a record £2 million at the charity’s biennial dinner. Lee Bladon, who appeared in the dinner film two years ago with his wife Sam and daughter Evie, told guests: “Sadly our beautiful girl lost her battle in November 2015.” Evie was deprived of oxygen at birth, resulting in severe brain damage and multiple resulting medical issues. “She had fought so bravely for three years, but her little body just couldn’t fight any longer against the terrible cocktail of medical problems she had to face daily throughout her life,” said Lee. “When Evie was born we felt our lives were shattered, but Camp Simcha are unique in their ability to help you put your lives back together again. I can tell you without hesitation that none of us would have coped in these last few years without Camp Simcha. They were there for each of us every step of the way.”

More than 1,000 guests at the Grosvenor House Hotel also heard about Camp Simcha’s partnership with Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice, forging the way for paediatric hospice care to be available for all Jewish children in north London for the first time. With the backing of The Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, provision is being made in the planned children’s hospice building in Barnet for the Wohl Family Room, which can be used by families referred by Camp Simcha. This will include special religious and cultural provisions which, with Camp Simcha’s input, will ensure that the hospice will be fully accessible for Jewish families. Professor David Latchman, chairman of The Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, said: “Maurice and Vivienne Wohl were a deeply religious couple who devoted themselves to the needs of others. We are delighted to be supporting the first children’s hospice facility where all Jewish families will feel comfortable within the north London area, ensuring that we cover the gaps in children’s palliative care service provision for our community.” Camp Simcha chief executive Neville Goldschneider added: “While thankfully many of the children we support are living longer and for some there is a good chance of a cure, sadly there
are other families we help who have to face up to the fact that their child has a terminal illness. We are particularly proud of the way that this partnership combines our resources in an efficient and effective way to answer a real need in our community.”

Since the charity’s last dinner in 2015, Camp Simcha has extended its services and reach, now offering 23 practical and emotional support services – among those a dedicated family liaison officer, therapeutic arts sessions, respite care, animal assisted therapy, outings, and weekend retreats.

They now help more than 1,000 children and parents on a daily basis throughout London, Manchester, Glasgow, Gateshead, Leeds, Bristol, Norwich and Brighton. Guests at the dinner also participated in a silent auction, which raised £180,000 and included the sale of works of art created by children participating in the charity’s Arts at Home programme. Lucy, aged 10, and Joshua, 8, both created their own paintings for the auction. Lucy, who was born with an extremely rare brain tumour which results in daily seizures and multiple lifelong endocrine issues, said creating art with Camp Simcha art teacher Belinda Glyn makes her feel “free,” and so she chose to create a graffiti-style painting around this theme. Joshua, who is just over a year into his treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) has an incredible knowledge of the underwater world, so he painted an underwater hospital, characterising the different doctors and nurses in his life as different fish and sea mammals.

Belinda Glyn told dinner guests: “Over the last three
months I have been working with the children, each creating a magnificent painting. I feel that the results they have come up with are a true testament, not only to themselves, but to every Camp Simcha child’s piece of artwork over the past seven years within the Arts at Home programme.”