Why sim­chahs are go­ing to cost less

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

CAMP SIM­CHA is ex­tend­ing its sup­port to se­ri­ously ill young peo­ple through a part­ner­ship with Noah’s Ark Chil­dren’s Hos­pice.

The link-up was an­nounced by Neville Gold­schnei­der, the Camp Sim­cha chief ex­ec­u­tive, at the char­ity’s din­ner in cen­tral Lon­don on Monday, which raised a record £2 mil­lion.

Ad­dress­ing the 1,100 guests at Grosvenor House, Mr Gold­schnei­der ex­pressed de­light at the part­ner­ship with Noah’s Ark, which is build­ing a new hos­pice in Bar­net.

“Along with day ser­vices, there’ll be sev­eral bed­rooms for chil­dren and fam­i­lies,” he said. A room do­nated by the Mau­rice Wohl Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion will be made avail­able to fam­i­lies of all Jewish back­grounds re­ferred by Camp Sim­cha.

“While thank­fully many of the chil­dren we sup­port are liv­ing longer — and for some there is a good chance of a cure — sadly there are other fam­i­lies we help who have to face up to the fact that their child has a ter­mi­nal ill­ness,” Mr Gold­schnei­der added.

“We are par­tic­u­larly proud of the way this part­ner­ship com­bines our re­sources in an ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive way to an­swer a real need in our com­mu­nity.”

The ap­peal film demon­strated the scope of the char­ity’s work with chil­dren and their fam­i­lies.

Among those fea­tured were Oliver and Char­lie Van Em­den, who sought help from Camp Sim­cha when son Sa­muel was di­ag­nosed with acute lym­phoblas­tic leukaemia in 2014, when he was aged four.

“I asked the psy­chol­o­gists: ‘How do I tell him?’ Mrs Van Em­den said. “They gave me a book and I ex­plained [to him] ‘we have to take the bad blood away but your hair might fall out’.

“He said to me: ‘But mummy if I lose my hair I won’t be Sa­muel any­more.’”

Mr Van Em­den — whose son is still un­der­go­ing treat­ment — con­fided: “What goes through your mind in those first four weeks is very, very, dark.”

The film also in­cluded Rina and Her­shy Stim­ler and their son Pini, who was di­ag­nosed with leukaemia 15 years ago but is now re­cov­ered.

“One of the scari­est mo­ments for us was when he caught a very rare strain of pneu­mo­nia and was put to sleep in a vir­tual coma,” Mr Stim­ler re­called. “It was the first time I felt I had no con­trol,” his wife added.

Pini’s sis­ter Ariella ex­plained how the char­ity had helped her through its “big sis­ter” be­friend­ing pro­gramme. “When my brother was first di­ag­nosed I was only three years old,” she said.

“I don’t re­mem­ber much about his ill­ness but I do re­mem­ber ev­ery de­tail of the re­treats [run by the char­ity]. To this day I have a teddy named af­ter one of my Camp Sim­cha big sis­ters.

“They went above and beyond to guide us through a scary time in our child­hood.”

Paul and Louise Katin were helped by ther­apy ses­sions af­ter their daugh­ter El­lie, now six, suf­fered brain dam­age through an un­known con­di­tion.

El­lie was three when the Katins no­ticed a de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in her speech and walk­ing.

“We didn’t know what to do,” Mr Katin said. “We were hurled into this new world and we didn’t know what to ex­pect. Louise spent ev­ery day for a year just cry­ing ev­ery night for the girl that we’d lost. We were in a re­ally bad place and emo­tion­ally I wasn’t there.”

Other din­ner speak­ers in­cluded Lee Bladon, who gave a mov­ing ac­count of the short life of his daugh­ter Evie, who died in Novem­ber 2015.

“She had fought so bravely for three years but her lit­tle body just couldn’t fight any longer against the ter­ri­ble cock­tail of med­i­cal prob­lems she had to face daily,” he said.

“When Evie was born, we felt our lives were shat­tered. But Camp Sim­cha are unique in their abil­ity to help you put your lives back to­gether again.”

Work by chil­dren in­volved in the char­ity’s Arts at Home project were auc­tioned dur­ing the evening.

What goes through your mind in those first four weeks is very dark’

Paul and Louise Katin Her­shy, Ariella and Rina Stim­ler Oliver and Char­lie Van Em­den

PHO­TOS: JUSTIN GRAINGE

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