The Rainbow Trust Children's Charity - it's very special

 People sometimes people ask me why I’m still working at my age. I explain to them that I need the money. I have three children and, I’ve discovered over the years, money is the one thing keeping me in touch with my children.

Joking apart, an incidental joy of having three children is that I’m lucky enough to have seven grandchildren. One of them - the youngest - has had a challenging start in life. He’s only two and he spent most of last year in hospital - at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London and at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital being treated for a childhood cancer. The hospitals are beyond praise in my book (just typing their names brings tears of gratitude to my eyes) and so are his parents, and the good news is that my little grandson, who will be three on Christmas Eve, is rid of his cancer and can look forward to a happy and healthy future.

During a tough year for my little grandson and his parents, the family was especially helped by a charity called the Rainbow Trust. It’s wonderful and, yesterday, I was invited to give the BBC Radio 4 Appeal on their behalf. I was honoured to do so - and below you’ll find the script of what I said. You’ll find details, too, of where you can send a donation. Please help if you can. Our family’s story has had a happy ending - but we have not forgotten the wonderful help we got from the Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity along the way.

Hello. You might know me as someone who pops up on Radio 4’s Just A Minute or on The One Show, or as a former MP and wearer of colourful knitwear – but you probably don’t know that I have seven grandchildren and that one of them, last year, aged only eighteen months, was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer - a tough call for a tiny chap and a frightening challenge for his brave and brilliant parents.  Knowing that a child might not get better is a huge burden to bear.

That’s why I’m here asking you to support a charity that helped my family.

It also helped another family I know whose son Dominic was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour when he was just 10 weeks old.  Dominic needed intense chemotherapy and was unable to leave the ward, so his mum Natalie lived with him in hospital, for five long months. Her husband had to keep working and look after their older son. Natalie felt very alone – especially in the dark hours of the night, lying beside Dominic’s small hospital cot.

After months apart Natalie’s older son Zach, who was only five, was scared his family would never be together again.

That’s when Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity helped them cope: it’s an amazing organisation that supports the entire family.

Their Rainbow Trust Family Support Worker, Vicky, became like an extra family member. She helped Zach feel less frightened. She looked after Dominic so his mother could have precious time with Zach, reducing her anxiety and giving her something to look forward to.

Happily, my little grandson, after eight months of treatment, has a bright future ahead of him – but in the dark days Rainbow Trust was there for him and his family.  That’s why I want to help them and I’d love you, if you can, to help them, too.

With £46 Rainbow Trust can care for a seriously ill child for a few hours, allowing a parent to have a desperately needed break.  £168 can pay for a full day with a Family Support Worker for parents trying to come to terms with a devastating diagnosis. 

Your gift will give families the support they need at their very toughest time.

You can give now, just search online for BBC Radio 4 Appeal, or call 0800 404 8144, that’s 0800 404 8144. Or you can write a cheque to Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity and send it to Freepost BBC Radio 4 Appeal. That’s the whole address, Freepost BBC Radio 4 Appeal. And, importantly, please mark the back of your envelope, Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity.

Gyles Brandreth