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Family create legacy in memory of 8-year-old Emily with nature-inspired upgrade for Addenbrooke’s outpatients X-ray department





A family whose eight-year-old daughter Emily died from a rare brain tumour have created a lasting legacy in her memory that will benefit other patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Sarah and Andy Smith and their son Harry, 12, faced the unthinkable when Emily passed away in the summer holidays last year, just 11 days after she was diagnosed.

The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT
The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT

The family set up a JustGiving page in her memory to raise money for the Addenbrooke’s teams who looked after her, research into paediatric brain tumours and bereavement support.

Within days, the page had reached £5,000 in donations and it has to date raised just over £30,000 with donations continuing to come in from friends, family, loved ones and Emily’s school, which continues to fundraise in her memory.

The Smith family wanted to do something lasting with the money, so decided to brighten up the once-drab outpatients X-ray waiting room where Emily had spent a lot of time during her hospital visits. Going for scans made Emily quite anxious and the space was not at all calming or child-friendly.

The team from the hospital’s charity, Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT), worked together with the Smiths, from St Albans in Hertfordshire, on their ideas for the waiting area, incorporating several personal touches special to Emily and the family.

Emily Smith, from St Albans, who died from a rare brain tumour at the age of 8
Emily Smith, from St Albans, who died from a rare brain tumour at the age of 8

Emily loved going to the woods and climbing trees, so to reflect this, the walls are wrapped in special woodland-themed vinyl.

Her favourite soft toy was Rabbity, who features in the scene along with eight other rabbits – one for each year of Emily’s life. There is even a tree engraving with Emily’s name written in her handwriting.

There are also puzzles on the wall to distract and keep children busy and a comfy seating area designed by Emily’s brother, Harry, with stools that look like tree stumps.

Emily’s mum, Sarah, said: “This area was in desperate need of refurbishment and did not have a separate children’s waiting area at all.

The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT
The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT

“We hope this environment helps to calm young patients down, that the relaxing, natural scene grounds them and they might take a minute and wonder who Emily was and marvel at her wood.”

Donna Lee-Willis, ACT head of community fundraising, added: “When the family mentioned that Emily used to get upset when she went for CT scans, we knew we had to help make this area of the hospital a nicer place to be.

“Improving the space meant a lot to the family and it is already having a big impact on the 200-300 patients who use it every single day.”

The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT
The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT
The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT
The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT

Lucy Swain, Addenbrooke’s outpatients X-ray manager, said: “Once the vinyls were installed, patients immediately commented on how calming the new space looked.

“The new reception desk has also provided more space and storage making it a nicer place to work – the entire team now feels a sense of pride working in this beautiful area.

“None of it would have been possible without the generous money donated by the Smith family in honour of their daughter.

“We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to them for helping us improve the patient experience in this area and creating a space that everyone can enjoy.”

The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT
The Smith family from St Albans raised money to help create a new space at Addenbrooke's X-Ray department, in memory of their eight-year-old daughter Emily. Picture: ACT

This project is an example of how ACT works to make sure all monies raised are spent where the need is greatest across the hospital. To find out more, visit helpyourhospital.co.uk.



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