Chance to Shine coaches join Paralympic star Will Bayley at Great Ormond Street to open the School’s redeveloped garden

Chance to Shine coaches Ray Tudor and Denise O’Neil joined Paralympic table tennis player Will Bayley last week to open the Children’s Hospital School’s redeveloped outdoor space at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Despite having his sights already set on Rio in 2016, the 24-year-old silver and bronze medallist from this year’s Paralympics took time out of his busy training schedule to go back to the school at Great Ormond Street Hospital as it played an important part in his own childhood. Will was born with arthrogryposis, a rare congenital disorder affecting the joints of the hands and feet. He had a number of operations at the hospital during his childhood and teenage years. He was also diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a blood cancer, when he was seven and was treated with chemotherapy at the hospital.

“I spent a lot of time in hospital when I was younger and I attended the Children’s Hospital School during my regular stays in hospital. The school holds some very special memories for me, so I was delighted when I was invited to return to meet some of the hospital’s current patients and to open the hospital’s fantastic new garden” said Will.

During the garden opening Will engaged the school’s current pupils in a discussion about the Paralympic legacy and challenged some of them to a game of table tennis.

“I hope the discussion about the Paralympic legacy I held with the school’s young pupils inspired them. You never know, for some of them, their own Paralympic journey may start in the hospital school’s garden” continued Will.

The hospital school garden is open during break times for the children to have fun in and to explore. There is a sensory and tactile element to the garden’s design, which is important given that children and young people with a range of medical conditions and disabilities attend the school. When weather permits, the space is used for a weekly cricket focused games lesson run by the Chance to Shine schools’ cricket campaign, a session which is the highlight of the week for many of the schools pupils. It’s also the venue for the school’s annual sports day.

Denise and Ray, Chance to Shine coaches, said: “We’ve been running sessions at the school for five years and during that time we have engaged and motivated hundreds of pupils with a range of complex medical needs and disabilities in meaningful teamwork and bat, ball skills and development. We’re really excited about running our sessions in the School’s new attractive surroundings.”

Jayne Franklin, the Headteacher at the Children’s Hospital School is delighted with the redeveloped garden and is looking forward to it being used to deliver an enriched curriculum to the school’s pupils. Each year approximately 1350 pupils attend the hospital school during their treatment for rare and complex conditions.

An enriched curriculum is vital to the work we do in a hospital environment. “We need to be able to bring in the richness and diversity of the outside world to help stimulate, engage, engage and motivate the children and young people we work with. Hospital can be a difficult place to think about school and homework, but the normality, continuity and enjoyment of school is a vital component in every child’s admission” said Jayne.

The redevelopment of the garden has primarily been funded through money generated by sales of Rob Kirby’s Children’s Recipe Book, Cook with Kids.

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