‘WE NEEDED CAMP SIMCHA IN SO MANY WAYS’
TWO years ago, Mill Hill couple Lee and Samantha Bladon spoke at the Camp Simcha dinner about their daughter Evie,who was born with severe brain damage.
Doctors did not expect Evie to live beyond 48 hours but she went on to celebrate three birthdays. She died six months after the Bladons addressed the dinner.
The trauma Evie suffered during her birth resulted in multiple health issues, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy and severe visual impairment, requiring 24/7 care.
“When Evie was four weeks old, the palliative care consultant at Great Ormond Street referred us to Camp Simcha and chief executive Neville Goldschneider came to visit us,” Mr Bladon recalls. “We had never needed charity before. But suddenly we needed Camp Simcha’s support in so many ways.
“Our family liaison officer Gila Hackenbroch was there for everything we needed, organising practical help and giving us the emotional support of having someone outside the family to talk to, someone to share the burden.
“There is an enduring feeling of isolation when your child doesn’t move, will never say your name and you query whether she even recognises you. When these feelings overwhelmed us, Gila was there for us. We had two lovely Camp Simcha ‘big siblings’ for our two older children, Alfie, now eight, and Mia, seven. They came to our house once a week to play with the kids, take them to the park, or out for a milkshake and spoil them rotten.
“And then there were the amazing family retreats, which gave us the boost we needed.”
Mr Bladon adds that Camp Simcha’s help has continued beyond Evie’s death. “Mia and Alfie still see their ‘big siblings’ and Gila is always there for us, a friend now.
“None of us would have coped without Camp Simcha.”
Samantha and Lee Bladon with Evie