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21.04.17: Queen's Park mum abseiling hospital that saved her son 

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Joanne Ballecer will be abseiling St Mary’s Hospital on Wednesday for Imperial College Healthcare Charity in honour of her son, Kai, who has been treated there several times.

Kai was born there in 2010, after 36 hours of induced labour and an emergency caesarean.  The day after being discharged he was readmitted after losing too much weight.

“We were looked after in the paediatric ward, but we distinctly remember one doctor that helped us by being the only one that could take the blood from a 4 days old baby,” said Ballecer. “We remember him so well that 4 years later when Kai was in the paediatric emergency for a busted lip from a biking accident we recognised him straight away and were able to say thank you to him.”

Since then, Kai has been treated for pneumonia, and suspected diverticulitis and Joanne has nothing but praise for the hospital.  “We have seen them under immense pressure, with a lack of resources and they have always been professional and as helpful as they can be. The care I received in the delivery ward was outstanding.”

Although she’s always wanted to give something back, she confessed the idea of abseiling terrifies her. “It's my birthday month and I always try to do something that challenges me in the month. I saw the flyer for this and I have never abseiled, I am petrified of heights so thought this may be a good challenge; but it was the charity that convinced me that it was the right challenge for me.”

The More Smiles Appeal is run in partnership with COSMIC – the charity for the children’s intensive care unit at St Mary’s Hospital. The remainder of the £10 million redevelopment project of the unit is being jointly funded by the Trust and Imperial College Healthcare Charity.

There is a registration fee of £30 to participate in the abseil and a minimum fundraising target of £80. For more information and to sign up, visit the More Smiles Appeal website

Alternatively, contact Lauren Levy at the charity on 0203 312 5694, or email


19.04.17 Albers Foundation talk on the role of art in hospitals to be held at St Mary's  

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Imperial College Healthcare Charity is delighted to welcome Nick Fox Weber, Director of the Albers Foundation, to give a talk at St Mary’s Hospital on Monday 24 April.

Weber will be speaking about the beautiful and highly acclaimed work of Josef and Anni Albers and the difference that artwork can make in hospitals. Josef Albers’ signature series, the Homage to the Square will be the inspiration behind the ‘look and feel’ of the new children’s intensive care unit, the centre of the charity’s £2 million More Smiles Appeal. The imagery and colours used in Josef Albers works will be placed on the walls, floors, glazing panels and reception in the unit.

Mando Watson, Consultant Paediatrician at St Mary’s, who helped organise the talk, said: “Josef Albers was very interested in the role of art in healing and health and the place of colour in healing and health. So to be able to tap into the knowledge of one of the 20th century’s great artists and pioneers of art to help us with the way that we’re going to make our hospital space look is a wonderful opportunity.”

The charity is a keen advocate of art in hospitals and manages a collection of over 2000 art works at the five Trust hospitals. A 2014 survey carried out by the charity revealed that 69% of patients credited the art collection with making them feel more relaxed in the hospital environment.

Like the charity, the Albers Foundation believes in the importance of art and healthcare. In addition to preserving and promoting the enduring works and achievements of the Albers, they also support medical care in Senegal through their organisation, Le Korsa.

“Given the nature of an intensive care unit where it can be quite frenetic, noisy and stressful, to have these very soothing images on the walls will be very helpful and special for the children and the families who sit at their bedsides for hours on end,” said Watson.

The talk is the latest in a series of regular Grand Round events taking place in Trust hospitals.

It takes place on Monday 24 April from 12:30pm to 1:30pm at the Cockburn Lecture Theatre on the second floor of the QEQM Building at St Mary's Hospital. It’s open to all staff, patients and visitors. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. 

If you would like to attend, please RSVP by contacting the art team at


18.04.17 Chocolate eggs donated to Children at St Mary's Hospital over easter 

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Children staying at St Mary’s Hospital during the weekend were treated to chocolate eggs thanks to the generosity of British Safety Council employees, who got in touch with Imperial College Healthcare Charity about making a difference over Easter.

Staff rallied together and donated 130 chocolate eggs, enough for every patient in the children's department to enjoy over Easter.

The Chiswick branch of Sainsbury’s donated additional eggs, which staff handed out over the weekend to the overjoyed children.

Matthew Stanier, Regional Account Manager at the British Safety Council said:

"Even if it just makes the kids smile a little bit more on that one day they’re in hospital, that’s what we want to get out of it; to put a smile on each kid’s face."

"Some of our directors were born here, some of my colleagues’ children were born here, pretty much half of the office seem to have come from this hospital hence why we picked you guys and wanted to get involved."

"We were blown away by the response of some of the staff. People were going back to the shop, constantly trying to pile the eggs higher. Everyone got right behind it, it was amazing to see."


 06.04.17 Pharmaceuticals team abseiling St Mary's Hospital in honour of colleague diagnosed with cancer

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Sigma 2A team from a Watford pharmaceuticals company will be abseiling the 20 storeys of the QEQM building at St Mary’s Hospital in April to support cancer care in the Trust.

Coral Graves, Sonal Gohil, Jade So and Simone Elkerton all work at Sigma Pharmaceuticals, a family run company where one of the Directors, Manish Shah, was diagnosed with cancer in September last year. He was treated in St Mary’s, and underwent surgery in January before being given the all-clear in February.

Coral Graves said: “He loved the care at St Mary’s, absolutely loved it and it was his idea that we should have it as our 2017 charity. He was always saying how well they’re looking after him, that he’s so lucky, everyone was just brilliant.”

“He loved his trainer; I think she’s made a big impact. He was upset obviously and probably a bit depressed with what was going on but all the care made him feel good.”

The team will be taking part in Imperial College Healthcare Charity’s abseil on 26 April to raise money for three departments, Radiotherapy, Chemotherapy and the Prepare Surgery team, and they plan to continue fundraising throughout the year.

“We’ve got seven people confirmed for the skydive in September,” said Coral. “We’re slowly trying to get more people involved, knowing that they can actually do something.”

“I last abseiled on a school trip when I was 11. Obviously that was a long time ago. We’re all quite pumped for that and looking forward to it. It’s the skydive we’re all wetting ourselves about.”

“Manish is close to all of us at Sigma and we’re so grateful for everything that’s been done for him and that he’s back in one piece.”

You can sponsor Coral via her JustGiving page at


The charity’s abseil is open to all and requires no previous experience. Read more and apply at  or contact Lauren Levy at or 020 3312 5694.


03.04.17 Hammersmith nurse cycling 800 miles to raise money for renal and transplant department 

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Claire Salter will be cycling from Budapest to Basel in aid of Imperial College Healthcare Charity which is raising money for the world renowned renal and transplant department at Hammersmith Hospital, where she works.

The 27-year-old Claire will be setting off from Budapest on April 15 with her friend, Lucy Plumridge, and cycle along the banks of the river Danube to Basel for the next 15 days, covering more than 50 miles each day. They’ll pass through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, carrying everything they need to eat and sleep with them.

Claire, a nurse in the hospital’s renal transplant unit, said: “This is definitely the biggest thing I’ve ever done. People think we’re mad for doing this. It’s going to be tonnes of fun, but really tough. The hardest aspect of the challenge will be the physical side above anything else, but to be honest, we’ll have little choice but to carry on going.”

Their 800 mile journey, named ‘Tour de Slum’ - a combination of the pair’s surnames – is along a stretch of the famous long-distance EuroVelo 6 cycle route from west to east, making it even harder as this involves a gradual ascent all the way to their finishing point. 

“Most people tackle the whole of the EuroVelo 6 route over eight weeks, starting in France and heading east,” said Claire. The way we’re doing it is unconventional, and unlike most cyclists, we won’t have a support team around us to carry gear and food. We’ll be loading up our bikes with two panniers, sleeping bags and a tent for the two of us, aiming for each of us to carry no more than around 15 kilograms of gear. We’re only bringing two sets of cycling gear, one we’ll wear and the other will be drying on the bikes somewhere.” 

So far, Claire and Lucy have raised £1,277 of their £3,000 target. To sponsor them and help them reach their goal, visit You can also follow their progress on Twitter and Instagram, @tourdeslum.


30.03.17 Sandra Blow exhibition unveiled at St Mary's Hospital 

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Works by the British abstract painter, Sandra Blow RA, have gone on display in the Cambridge Wing Gallery at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.

Imperial College Healthcare Charity, which manages the art collection at all five Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust hospitals, has organised the collection of prints, generously loaned by Sandra Blow’s estate for the next 18 months.

Blow (1915-2006) is credited as being at the forefront of the abstract art movement in Britain. In 1957, Blow featured in the first John Moores biannual exhibition in Liverpool, won the International Guggenheim Award in 1960 and second prize at the third John Moores exhibition in 1961. The majority of works on display, including Double Diamond (2003) and Revolve (2003), date from the last decade of her life.

Alice Strickland, Art Curator at Imperial College Healthcare Charity, said: “We’re incredibly proud to bring Sandra Blow’s work to St Mary’s. The Trust’s art collection has a tremendous impact on patients, staff and visitors and helps to create a stimulating, enriching environment.”

“Sandra Blow was a pioneer of the British post-war abstract movement and these bold, joyful works are a wonderful display in the hospital.”

The installation was officially unveiled on Tuesday night at a reception attended by Trust staff and members of Blow’s family. The collection will be displayed at the St Mary’s, Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals, spending six months at each location.


The charity’s current exhibitions include a series of coastal etchings by Norman Ackroyd RA at Charing Cross Hospital and Capturing the Light at Hammersmith Hospital, which focuses on three artists and their exploration of light.


28.03.17 St Mary's researcher running Brighton Marathon to support children's intensive care unit



Kelsey Flott is running the Brighton Marathon on April 9th to raise funds for Imperial College Healthcare Charity.

A patient safety and quality improvement researcher at St Mary’s, she’s passionate about supporting the Trust. 

Kelsey will be running alongside her partner Tom who works at Kingston Hospital’s A&E and shares the same passion for the NHS and giving patients the best experience possible. 

Kelsey explained: “We know how hard both our charities work to make vital improvements to the hospitals, which is why we chose to fundraise for them. It's a privilege to help our hospitals this way and the challenge of running a whole marathon is something we hope will rally support.” 

The money Kelsey raises is going towards the More Smiles Appeal which is funding the renovation of the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at St Mary’s Hospital. This will mean up to 200 more children can be treated there each year in a state of the art facility to match the expertise of staff.  

To sponsor Kelsey visit her Virgin Money Giving page. She is also holding a fundraising auction on 31 March and would greatly appreciate any donations to be auctioned off such as lessons, tickets, food, merchandise, and experiences – so please get in touch with her at if you have something interesting to contribute. 


15.03.17 London Marathon runner supporting renal fund


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Paul Coward is taking on the London Marathon and raising money for the renal fund at Imperial College Healthcare Charity. 

He is rising to the challenge to give  back to the ward at Hammersmith  Hospital where both his in-laws were treated for kidney failure.  Six years ago his mother-in-law suffered acute kidney failure requiring immediate action and luckily his wife was able to donate her kidney. Paul was very impressed by staff at Hammersmith who supported them throughout the entire process.  
In 2016 the family received a further shock when Paul’s father-in-law was also taken into hospital suffering from sepsis, a potentially life-threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs. After a series of complications he was in hospital for around six months and still receives dialysis three times a week.

Paul commented: “Without the care and support of the renal unit, who knows what the outcome of my father-in-law's deteriorating health would have been.Having his own carer during his toughest moments was invaluable. The team at the unit have been fundamental in aiding his road to recovery, helping us to overcome many hurdles along the way.

“My father ran the marathon many times and his dedication inspired me over the years. This is my way of raising money and awareness for a hospital that has done so much for my wife and my in-laws, and giving them a better quality of life, which makes it even more worthwhile.”

So far Paul has raised more than £1150 of his £2000 target for the renal fund. To sponsor Paul and help him reach his goal visit his JustGiving page


20.01.17: New rooms offer comfort for early pregnancy patients


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New rooms offer comfort for early pregnancy patients 

Patients at the Early Pregnancy Unit at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea are benefitting from two newly refurbished rooms thanks to a charitable grant of £28,000 from Imperial College Healthcare Charity.

A new larger purpose built waiting room and counselling room have been created and refurbished, featuring new lights, seating, walls and artworks by artist Charlotte Verity that help create a calmer more peaceful environment for patients. They were officially launched earlier in the week.

Tom Bourne, consultant gynaecologist at the Trust, said: “It’s a huge change. We now have a waiting room that is airy, has natural light and great colour and fantastic art. The space has been thought out properly. It was formerly the old research room which just wasn’t being used properly, whilst the waiting room we did have was an unconverted four bed ward with the equipment stripped out, with no natural light.

“It was an extremely depressing place for people to wait, especially if you were waiting for news about problems in early pregnancy or possibly miscarriage. There’s a lot of data out there that shows the environment the patient is in makes a big difference to their mental outlook and their levels of anxiety.

“Our counselling room, where we break bad news to patients, has been done up in the same way and will make a big difference to the experience patients have here.”

Catriona Stalder, consultant at the Early Pregnancy Unit, said: “The counselling room is somewhere where we hopefully leave an impression for the right reasons whereas before I felt it left an impression for the wrong reasons. Patient feedback has been very positive; they tell us it’s a far more comfortable environment to be in.

“Architect Ab Rogers and his team have involved us every step of the way to get our feedback on what we felt would work and what wouldn’t. It’s been fantastic to have all the input all the way through.”

Imperial College Healthcare Charity has awarded more than £34 million to over 500 projects like this at the Trust since 2009. For more about the grants the charity has awarded, click here.  


10.01.17: Patients with dementia fall less often thanks to charity funded equipment

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Patients living with dementia are being helped to recover and return home quicker thanks to a grant from Imperial College Healthcare Charity. 

The charity has funded My Improvement Network technology, which provides a plethora of activities that includes games, music, physical exercises and opportunities for social interaction all contained within an All-in-One unit that is portable, compact and compliant with infection control requirements.

The technology has been in use on Valentine Ellis and Albert Ward at St Mary’s Hospital and involves activities on computers, television screens and tablets. It helps patients in a number of ways, including helping to reduce the number of falls and reducing the need for one to one Special Nurses.

Katie Pritchard, Ward Manager on Albert Ward, said: “The technology has made such a difference. It has transformed the way we deliver our nursing care to patients with dementia; we’ve even won a Quality Improvement Award recently. We would like to thank the charity for providing the funding for this equipment.”    

My Improvement Network helps patients’ sleep/awake cycle so they are not sleeping during the day and awake at night. If patients get out of bed at night, when lighting is low when there is often less staffing, it can pose a high risk of falls.

The number of falls on Albert Ward in August 2015, before the technology was introduced, was at 33.3 per cent. In August 2016, after the technology was introduced, the number of falls had reduced to 14 per cent.

Katie said: “My Improvement Network provides stimulation that we haven’t been able to give to patients before. We have group activity sessions and the patients really enjoy it. It’s making hospital fun for them. Some of our patients can be here for two or three months and there is a real variety of things patients can do with this.”


12/12/16: Trust is first in the UK to use non-invasive ultrasound for brain surgery thanks to charity


Clinicians at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have used high-intensity, focused ultrasound waves for the first time in the UK to treat patients with debilitating tremors, avoiding traditional, invasive brain surgery techniques.

The procedure is the subject of a trial at the Trust, supported by a £1million grant from Imperial College Healthcare Charity to enable the purchase of special equipment to deliver the ultrasound. The trial is currently limited to around 20 suitable patients with essential tremor (ET).

Around one million people in the UK are affected by ET, a brain disorder characterised by uncontrollable shaking. Approximately, 100,000 people also have tremors caused by other movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.  Currently, patients with ET or other types of tremor are offered anti-tremor medication. If the medication is ineffective or causes adverse side effects, some patients are offered deep brain stimulation (DBS), though this brings a risk of brain haemorrhage or even death.

Tremor is thought to be caused by abnormal electrical circuits in the brain, which transmit tremors through the nervous system to the muscles. The new treatment, known as ‘MRI-guided focused ultrasound for brain’ works by accurately applying heat energy from ultrasound waves to very specific parts of the brain to break the abnormal circuit causing the tremor. The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic with no need for invasive brain surgery.  Trials in America and Japan have shown that it reduces the severity of tremor by at least 80 per cent. The treatment works immediately and the results are expected to be long-lasting.

Mr Selwyn Lucas, a 52-year old painter and decorator from St Austell in Cornwall, is one of the first people to receive the treatment as part of the trial in the UK.  He has lived with a tremor in his right hand for more than 20 years, which has grown progressively worse over the last five years. 

Commenting on the treatment, Mr Lucas said: “For many years I managed to live a relatively normal life with my tremor but over the last five years it had started to prevent me from leading the life I wanted to lead. It was also particularly difficult to continue my job as a painter and decorator as I had to learn to perform my job using my left hand and being a right-handed person this slowed my ability to complete jobs.

“Since the treatment I have been able to write my own name for the first time in many years and taken my wife out for a lovely meal without fear of embarrassing myself. I will also be able to go back to using my right hand which will allow me to take on more painting and decorating jobs.”

Professor Wladyslaw Gedroyc, consultant radiologist and principal investigator for this trial Trust, said: “We are pleased with the results of the trial so far. We anticipate that this new approach to therapy in essential tremor and other movement disorders, including Parkinson’s, will allow huge improvements in patients’ quality-of-life without the need for invasive procedures or expensive, poorly tolerated and often ineffective drug therapy.”

Dr Peter Bain, consultant neurologist at the Trust and co-coordinator of the trial, said: “Tremor is a progressive and disabling condition that affects patients’ ability to perform their daily activities at home or in the workplace.  Despite anti-tremor medication, many patients have a much reduced quality of life. It can leave them significantly disabled and socially ill at ease, largely because tremor in their dominant hand prevents accurate manual functioning and also because people can feel embarrassed.

“This new technique, which is in my view the biggest breakthrough in medical science in the last 20 years, could offer hope to many in the future by providing those with limited treatment options a non-invasive highly effective treatment.”

Mr Dipankar Nandi, Consultant Neurosurgeon who is performs the treatment said: “This breakthrough allows us to operate on patients without the significant risks associated with deep brain stimulation. We are at the cusp of widening the applications of this innovative technology to help a wide variety of patients, some of whom had no therapeutic option before.”

Professor Gedroyc and his team have 15 years’ experience using MRI-guided focused ultrasound for different parts of the body. The initial trial is for 20 patients with ET only. The team also hope to trial the technology for use in patients with Parkinson’s disease and to develop other areas of application such as for severe tremor associated with multiple sclerosis in the future.

The £1 million funding for the equipment required for the trial came from a legacy left to Imperial College Healthcare Charity by a former St Mary’s Hospital nurse.

Ian Lush, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare Charity, said: “We are delighted to have made one of our largest ever grants to enable such an exciting trial. We very much hope it will help make the case for offering this potentially life-changing procedure to many more people in the future.”



05/12/16: Write a festive message for our Christmas trees

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We are inviting you to write a festive wish or message to hang on our Christmas trees for staff and patients to read.

The charity is giving staff, patients and families the chance to write a few festive words to staff or patients on baubles to hang on Christmas trees across the Trust.

We are asking for a suggested donation of £5 for each Christmas wish. This will help to make a difference to the lives of children in West London living with long- term conditions by funding vital outreach programmes such as "Looking Forward Days" where young patients have the opportunity to meet, share experiences and talk to other children and teenagers with the same condition as them.

Your donations will also allow the charity to provide more financial relief to families in crisis by paying for travel and accommodation. This money will allow families to stay together while their child is in hospital – families like Janice who was supported when he baby was critically ill after being born prematurely.

To take part, click here or go to one of the charity stands on the following days:     

  • $        QEQM Building at St Mary’s Hospital from 10am to 2pm on: 5Dec, 6 Dec, 7 Dec, 8 Dec, 9 Dec, 12 Dec, 13 Dec, 14 Dec, 15 Dec and 16 Dec.
  • $        Charing Cross Hospital from 10am to 2pm on: 5 Dec, 12 Dec, 13 Dec and 14 Dec. The stand on 13 December at Charing Cross will include a carol concert too.


Charity Week: The Staff Arts Club visits Frieze Art Fair


Thanks to Imperial College Healthcare Charity’s Staff Arts Club, a group of lucky Trust staff enjoyed a very special day at the Frieze London art fair recently.


The hugely successful Staff Arts Club is run by Imperial College Healthcare Charity and offers Trust staff free access to paid exhibitions at several of London’s most popular galleries, including the V&A, Tate Modern and the Royal Academy, as well as exclusive chances to win tickets to events such as Frieze London.


The renowned international contemporary art fair takes place annually in an enormous temporary structure in Regent’s Park, and the special day included an artist-led guided tour of the fair highlighting some of the key galleries and artworks on display. 


Staff Arts Club member Craig Wah Day, who works as an e-commerce assistant at St Mary’s Hospital, said: It was a fantastic day. The tour was really informative, the guide was lovely and it was nice to learn about the art in more detail, something that would’ve been lost if you were just walking around. I had no idea a lot of art on sale will only be seen there and people travel from all over the world for it.”


Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist, Suzanne Vizor, said: ‘It was nice to be introduced to the Frieze by a knowledgeable working artist as our guide. Her insight was invaluable making the day a fantastic experience, so  thank you to the charity.’


The Staff Arts Club started less than 18 months ago and now has more than 1600 members. Previous Staff Arts Club events this year include an exclusive curator’s talk at St Mary’s Hospital on sell-out exhibition Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at the Royal Academy, a private curator’s tour of the V&A’s Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, plus numerous opportunities to go to private views at these museums and galleries.


Lucy Zacaria, head of arts at Imperial College Healthcare Charity, said “So many members of Trust staff have fed back to us about how much they enjoy being able to visit so many different galleries and exhibition which would normally cost a lot of money. The Staff Arts Club’s popularity has continued to grow this year and we’re really excited that we can continue to bring new and unique creative experiences to hospital staff.”


The Staff Arts Club is free to join if you are a member of Trust staff. You can sign up on the charity’s website:

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