South Shields schoolgirl prompts non-uniform day in aid of heart unit

A schoolgirl who underwent heart surgery has shown her gratitude to the medical staff who cared for her by raising funds to help other patients.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 9:23 am
Catherine Brettell who has been raising money for the Children's Heart Unit Fund

Catherine Brettell had set her mind on raising money for the Children’s Heart Unit Foundation at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital after recovering from an operation to correct a hole in her heart, last year.

The 11-year-old wrote a letter to the headteacher of Hadrian Primary School, Scott Brown, asking if she could hold a non-uniform day in aid of the heart unit where she had her operation.

Catherine Brettell with Shannon Hands

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With the added help of cake sales on the day, a total of £500 was raised for the charity.

Catherine, from South Shields, said: “I received really good care when I was in hospital and I wanted to do something to say thank you.

“I wrote a letter to Mr Brown and gave it to him. He read it while I was in the room and he thought it was a good idea and he would look at doing something.

“I wasn’t expecting to raise £500, but I’m really pleased about it. I’ve never done anything like this before, I’ve done bake sales for Red Nose Day and for Comic Relief in school before but nothing for CHUF.”

Catherine who underwent surgery in March last year took five weeks from school - which included the two-weeks Easter break - to recover.

Dad Neil Woods said: “The hole in her heart was quite small and hadn’t really affected her. Each year she would go for a check-up and last year, they decided they needed to operate.

“It wasn’t making her ill but they foresaw some problems in the future and said it was best to operate when she was younger.

“We’re proud she has wanted to help the people who helped her. It’s quite a mature thing to do for someone who is only 11.”

Mr Brown said: “As a school, we were delighted to support Catherine’s idea of fund raising for CHUF, particularly as she has benefitted directly from the excellent work they do.”

Shannon Hands, CHUF representative said: “A huge thank you to Catherine and all at Hadrian Primary School for raising £500 for CHUF! Your efforts and enthusiasm will help CHUF to achieve it’s mission to make life better for children and young people who are born with or develop heart conditions by providing lifelong support to them and their families.

“Please accept our sincere thanks, we are incredibly grateful for your support.”