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Why I donate to GOSH

Tackling the Ride London-Essex 100 cycle ride gave Greg Browne the means to say thanks to Great Ormond Street Hospital's staff for the care they gave his daughter.

Helping Rhinos

This is a feature from Issue 23 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

I was bamboozled into signing up for the Ride London 100 bike ride by a friend, but immediately realised this would be my way to say thank you to GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital). The support the staff at GOSH gave my family when we needed it most was life affirming, and it’s humbling to experience the magic they work.

GOSH is a children’s hospital in central London, and it’s one of the best in Europe. Ideally, you don’t want to have to go there, but if you do, you’re in safe hands. They help families in the darkest moments of their lives, and while it’s amazing the way they take care of the kids in a welcoming and calming environment, it’s also incredible how they take care of the parents, metaphorically holding our hands through the whole very scary process.

My partner and I ended up in GOSH with our daughter Ava, when she was three months old. She had a life-threatening health scare that led to her being hospitalised at our local hospital and a whole battery of tests were run on her. It was terrifying for us – I mean, I was still white-knuckled from becoming a parent only few months before – and it all felt very serious and very scary.

Ava understandably found the whole thing really upsetting, we weren’t kept informed of what was happening, and the hospital was clearly under-resourced. The whole thing left us all pretty traumatised.

Thanks to all the tests they ran, they discovered Ava had a completely unrelated heart issue – one of the holes in her heart (that we’re all born with) hadn’t healed as it’s supposed to, and it meant Ava potentially needed open heart surgery. On top of everything else, we were devastated. But, thanks to a quirk of luck, we were referred to GOSH and everything shifted for us.

I could wax lyrical for hours about how wonderful the staff were – for example, Ava had developed a real fear of hospital equipment but the staff were incredible at making what could be a scary test into a fun, almost game-like experience for her. It was wonderful to see them put her at ease, and that of course put us at ease too. They kept us informed at every step, gave us a rundown of what was going to happen, what they were looking for and what the impact could be, and I can’t praise the staff enough for their grace, warmth and professionalism.

We were fortunate – our story had a very happy ending. Ava didn’t need open heart surgery in the end, but still had an operation under anaesthetic. We were in and out of GOSH for a while and I’ve felt indebted to them ever since.

Cycling Ride London was a baptism of fire. I went from being a casual commuter cyclist to doing 100km rides in six months and I had to quickly learn a million things, like nutrition, training and bike maintenance. It was daunting and there was a lot of jitters before the event. Yet the ride itself wasn’t anywhere near as hard as I’d thought it’d be, and cycling on closed roads with 21,000 other people was such a positive, uplifting experience.

The last 25 miles were gruelling but then all of a sudden, I made one turn and the River Thames opened up. I saw the finish line on Tower Bridge, thousands of people cheering, and crossing that line felt like a big cathartic finale to the whole chain of events. I was emotional, that was for sure.

Friends and family were so generous with their donations because of our connection to GOSH, and I’m so happy to be able to give a little something back to that incredible hospital.

How you can help

To find out more about the work and impact of the Great Ormond Street Hospital charity, visit gosh.org.

This is a feature from Issue 23 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.