The Royal Marsden children’s unit and Woodlands Meed school will be the chosen charities for Mid Sussex District Council’s chairman over the coming year.
Colin Trumble announced his choices at a full council meeting on Wednesday (June 26), praising the work carried out by both organisations.
The Royal Marsden unit treats all types of cancer – including leukaemia, lymphoma and brain tumours – in children and young people aged 1-24.
One of the young patients was Mr Trumble’s granddaughter, Sophie Roberts, who spent three years receiving treatment for stage 4 liver cancer from the age of 18 months.
While Sophie is now a lively nine-year-old, for other children the story does not have such a happy ending and Mr Trumble is determined to raise awareness of the hospital’s work.
He said: “I saw a number of children who were not so lucky and it is truly devastating to see the loss of all that potential and hope – and who would not do all they could to stop that happening?”
Describing his granddaughter’s time in hospital, he said: “We spent the best part of the next three years more or less camped out at Royal Marsden children’s unit and we did indeed stare over the precipice many times.
“But thanks to the outstanding care and skill of the great staff, the great institution, my granddaughter is now a healthy nine-year-old – with attitude.”
As for Woodlands Meed, Mr Trumble described the Burgess Hill special school as ‘an outstanding institution’, adding that it gave ‘great care and great education’ to vulnerable children.
But he also shared a shocking statistic with the meeting, telling them that of the 65 per cent of children who left the school able and willing to work, only six per cent found jobs.
Mr Trumble said: “Again, what a tremendous loss of potential and hope for those children.
“So if by supporting that school and raising the profile of what it does we can help to increase that it would be tremendous.”
A spokesman for the school said: “Woodlands Meed is delighted that Cllr Colin Trumble has named Woodlands Meed as one of his chosen charities of the year.
“Firstly it will raise much needed funds to support the pupils at Woodlands Meed. We also plan to work together to raise the awareness of local employers of the work done by Woodlands Meed.
“With the hope of ensuring local businesses are aware of the employability skills that young people with Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) have to offer the workplace.”