Health: Club helps ease scars of young burn victims

Elizabeth McGinley with her mum Mary

Elizabeth McGinley with her mum Mary

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As a baby, Elizabeth suffered horrendous burns, she has now found friends and support at a locl burns club. Juliette Bains reports.

In the space of just a few seconds, Elizabeth McGinley’s life changed forever.

At the age of 18 months, she suffered severe burns from the waist down.

Mum Mary, from Outwood, Wakefield, recalls the terrifying moment she walked in to find her daughter in pain.

“Elizabeth was having a bath with her sister, who was four at the time, and her sister turned the hot tap on.

“Elizabeth was underneath it and it scalded her.

“My older daughter was in the bathroom with them and had turned around for just two seconds.”

The water was at boiling point after plumbing problems meant they’d turned up the temperature to see if it was working.

Mum-of-seven Mary, 45, said: “It was horrendous. She was at Pinderfields Hospital for six months.

“They all still carry that burden with them.”

Elizabeth is now 14 and has since had 10 operations, including skin grafts and procedures to loosen the skin where it is getting tighter as she grows.

The Children’s Burns Unit at Pinderfields Hospital and the Pinderfields Burns Club has helped support Elizabeth through her injuries, and she’s made plenty of friends along the way.

“We go canoeing, rock climbing and do lots of activities”, she said.

“Tracy always makes it fun for us.”

Play specialist Tracy Foster has devoted years to making a difference to the lives of young people with burns injuries.

She works at the regional Children’s Burns Unit at Pinderfields Hospital and is also the driving force behind Pinderfields Burns Club, which provides care and support to young people from birth up to the age of 18 who have been affected by burns injuries.

As the regional specialist centre for children’s burns injuries, the unit cares for youngsters across Yorkshire.

Set up in 1988, the Pinderfields Burns Club provides the care, positive support and encouragement that a child with burns injuries needs.

As well as distraction activities, Tracy also raises funds and hosts parties, which children with burns scars can attend without feeling self-conscious.

The highlight of the year is Burns Camp, where youngsters meet up to make new friends and catch up with old ones.

Children of all ages can take part in club activities, but those attending the annual camp are between seven and 16 years old.

The camp aims to provide a unique, fun, safe and caring environment where all of the young people can play, heal, grow and help support each other.

Elizabeth, who recently gave a talk in Manchester about her burns, added: “We don’t feel different when we’re at camp.

“In the summer I won’t go out in shorts or get my legs out.

“But when you’re there, everyone else is the same and I feel like I fit in more.”

She added: “My favourite memory is when Tracy fell in the lake when we were canoeing!

“Tracy has been through all my operations with me and does that with everyone else, so we are all really close to her.”

Tracy was recently awarded first place in the Humberside Fire and Rescue Service Community Awards for the individual who most engages with vulnerable people.

Speaking at the time, Tracy said: “Everyone at the burns unit gives so much to young people who are treated here and this is a recognition of the fantastic difference that the team makes to their lives.”

Elizabeth’s mum, Mary, said: “Seeing other burns children has been good because Elizabeth wouldn’t do sports at school but she does when she goes to camp and she tries new things.”

She added: “I think it’s because they know that no-one there will look at them any differently.

“It’s like a family. They just see past the burns and their scars.”

Tracy and the rest of the team need to raise around £30,000 a year to keep the club going.

All of the funds for the club are provided from voluntary donations from friends and families of patients, members of the public through fundraising days and events, grant-making trusts and organisations and companies’ charitable donations.

Support burns club

Pinderfields Burns Club supports children throughout Yorkshire who have suffered burns and scalds.

The club costs around £30,000 a year to run.

Anyone wishing to support the club can email tracy.foster@midyorks.nhs.uk.

You can also donate by texting BURN01 and the amount you would like to donate, for example BURN01 £5, to 70070.

To find out more about the club, visit www.burns-club.org.uk.

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