A grandmother said she was “gobsmacked” after her employer donated £1,500 to a charity very close to her heart.
Vicky Strudwick, who works for TK Maxx, in Queensway, suggested to her boss the store might consider making a donation to the charity TOFS as part of its community fund.
The charity supports families of children born with tracheo-oesophageal fistula (TOF), a rare condition which affect one in every 3,500 babies.
Vicky’s grandson Riley Johnston, 19 months, was born with the condition which meant his oesophagus was not attached to his stomach.
Born on New Year’s Day 2013 – along with his twin brother Mason – the tot went through corrective surgery to close the gap when he was just one day old.
Then, at three months old, he took a turn for the worse and spent six months in hospital in Brighton where he had two further operations.
Riley’s mum, Stacie Kennedy, said: “He had a bit of a bumpy start. His first year was quite awful. It’s been a bit of an emotional year.”
While it is hoped his oesophagus will grow as he gets older, at the moment Riley has to be connected to a food pump at night to make sure he gets all the nutrients he needs.
Vicky said: “He does eat normally to an extent but he struggles. He just takes a little bit at a time and sometimes it won’t go down.”
She added that, when Riley is older and his ability to eat has improved, he will still need to have plenty of water on standby when he eats in case he chokes.
Both Stacie and Vicky have offered their heartfelt thanks to TK Maxx and manager Faisal Ahmed.
Vicky said: “We do quite a bit for charity and the manager mentioned they would like to donate to local charities associated with children.
“I jumped at the chance and we both applied.”
While hoping that perhaps a couple of hundred pounds might be allocated, Vicky and Stacie were delighted when TK Maxx gave £1,500 to the cause.
Stacie said: “It’s amazing. It’s going to help everything. It’s not a well-known charity and we’re really pleased and really thankful.”
John Pearce, trustee and tresurer at TOFS, thanked TK Maxx for its donation.
Explaining the problems faced by children suffering tracheo-oesophageal fistula, he said: “The surgery is a treatment not a cure and people with this condition are generally left with all kinds of difficulties to manage for the rest of their lives, health wise.
“And that’s what our support group exists to help with.
“We are a tiny charity and we operate UK nationwide but on only a few tens of thousands of pounds, so the amount of money that has been raised through TK Maxx in Crawley is very, very helpful to us indeed.”
To find out more about TOFS, log on to www.tofs.org.uk