Meet Ollie

Carl Hanser, Grants Officer, talks about how the grant he awarded helped 3 year old cancer patient Ollie get some pain relief. 

I’ve worked in grants for several years, most recently for the charity Education Support Partnership who provide financial, organisational and one to one support to all of those working in the education sector so as you can imagine I hear many stories of individuals facing tough times and difficult conditions. 

But when I was contacted by primary school teacher Gail in February earlier this year I knew that I had to act not just in my capacity as a professional grants case worker but as a fellow parent.

Gail’s son Ollie is 3 years old and lives at home with his mum, dad and 6-year-old brother Ashton. In May last year mum Gail noticed that Ollie he had started limping and by September he couldn’t run and could barely walk.

His parents had been taking Ollie for tests for months and eventually in October 2015 he was diagnosed with tumours in his leg and lesions in his skull due to a rare form of cancer called LCH.

Ollie was not allowed to put any weight on his leg because the tumour was so big and had made his bone really weak. 

He was moved to Great Ormond Street hospital for chemotherapy and also stayed at the Harley Street Clinic where they had a big bath in his room which he loved to have a good old soak and splash around in, helping to relieve the pain in his leg. 

Soon it was time to leave hospital only returning for regular steroids tests, blood tests and chemo something he will continue to do until at least January 2017.

Ollie was now able to walk a little, but his leg continued to be very painful at the end of each day so his consultant said it would be good to have regular baths to help take the pressure off his leg. Unfortunately Ollie’s house only had a shower so Gail was having to take Ollie to her parent’s house at night, and return later with Ollie and Ashton in their pyjamas in the cold and dark winter night. As you can imagine this was extremely stressful and tiring for everyone.

Teacher Gail had been given compassionate leave by her employer to look after Ollie, but clearly the additional strain of full time caring for Ollie and the potential financial impact of this was a great worry to her. So she decided to contact her trade union, to ask for help. They suggested she get in touch with us to see if she was eligible for our grants scheme.

When I first spoke with Gail she explained that she was really starting to feel the financial strain of the extra expenses such as travel costs to and from hospital. She was hopeful that we could help with a grant to cover some of those costs and importantly help part fund a new bathroom she had planned to have fitted at home to help Ollie rest his painful leg.

She submitted an extremely articulate and moving grant application, written from the perspective of 3-year-old Ollie along with all the necessary financial details the charity needs to consider all grant applications. On reading the well-constructed application she had provided, and as the father of a young son myself, there really wasn’t any way I could refuse. I put myself in her shoes and wondered how my family would cope in similar circumstances. Having a bath seems such a simple thing that most of us take for granted and knowing that it would make such an immediate and positive impact, awarding Gail and Ollie our maximum grant of £3000 was the least we could do.

It’s great to know that the grant I awarded has really helped this family by easing some of the financial strain they were experiencing during a very difficult time. Financial challenges are something that can happen to anyone working in education for all manner of reasons, and one of the reasons we exist as a charity. However in this case the beneficiary wasn’t just the grant recipient but a bath loving little boy too which made it an extra special application in my eyes!

In fact, I wasn’t alone in that feeling, my colleagues were so moved by Ollie’s story that they all clubbed together to buy some new bath toys for him too, we hope he enjoys playing with them as much as we enjoyed sending them to him. Meantime Ollie is responding well to his treatment but has a long journey ahead. We at Education Support Partnership wish him the best of luck!

Please visit our grants page to find out more and apply.