Leeds firm Lowell is first to support Leeds Hospitals Charity's 'Sparkle' Christmas fundraiser - a cause close to many employees' hearts

Leeds credit management company Lowell has become the first business to sponsor a star as part of Leeds Hospitals Charity’s ‘Sparkle’ Christmas campaign.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 4:45 am
Fiona Barker, of Lowell, with son Archie, who received potentially life-saving care from hospital staff in Leeds. Picture: James Hardisty

The campaign urges the city's firms to sponsor a star to light up Leeds General Infirmary and St James Hospital this Christmas and help spread some festive cheer to NHS staff as well as patients and their families, while raising vital money.

And it’s a cause close to the hearts of a number of the south Leeds firm’s employees - including director of financial performance, Fiona Barker, 48, who remains “eternally grateful” to the hospital staff who cared for her son Archie at the very start of his life.

Archie was five weeks old when he was hospitalised with bronchiolitis after the first-time mum took him to see her GP when he fell ill.

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Last year's lights for the Sparkle Christmas campaign by Leeds Hospitals Charity.

The little tot had to spend a couple of days in a baby oxygen tent before he was allowed to go home - but a few months later, he was back in hospital to face an even bigger and potentially life-threatening battle.

Having fallen ill again, a five-month-old Archie was rushed to A&E, where a lumbar puncture test revealed he had been struck down with pneumococcal meningitis.

After numerous attempts to get an IV line into his veins, the youngster had to undergo surgery to fit a line into his thigh to deliver the all-important antibiotics.

He then spent two weeks in hospital battling the condition while his worried parents watched on.

Thankfully Archie recovered and is now a fit and well 15-year-old but Fiona says through all of the nightmare ordeal, one thing which stands out was how supportive staff were.

“The staff were so caring - on both occasions I was a new mum, so was finding the whole transition to being a mum hard enough without dealing with serious illnesses too.

“All of the staff made time for me, to answer questions, give a hug when needed or just reassure me that I was doing the right thing and that Archie was in the best place possible.”

She said: “When they said it was meningitis, it was my worst nightmare. I had just heard so many horror stories about it.

“I think we were lucky in that we got it quickly. If we had waited longer I think it could have been much worse.”

Of the hospital staff, she said: “They do such a brilliant job - just when you really need it - so I support this [fundraising] campaign wholeheartedly.”

For fellow Lowell employee, Lisa Wragg, the company’s head of office services, it was the compassion staff showed to her father, Tony Jagger, during the last few weeks of his life which meant so much.

Coronavirus restrictions meant the family could not be by his side all the time but Lisa says staff reassured them every step of the way, before he sadly died aged 93.

She said: “When we were not there with him, the nurses, care assistants, even the sisters sat with him night and day holding his hand and talking to him. It was such a comfort to us to know they were looking after him so well.

“We called them our angels and we cannot praise them enough.”

John Pears, Lowell UK CEO, said he was “proud” the company was supporting the fundraising campaign.

“Giving back to our local community is something that’s really important to us and we’re so proud to be able to support Leeds Hospitals Charity who help improve and save people’s lives.

“I think everyone at Lowell feels a really strong sense of pride in our association with Leeds Hospitals Charity and we are pleased to be continuing our partnership by supporting the Sparkle Christmas campaign”

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